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27384 No. 27384
More than a hundred years have passed since the Scarlet family transported all their holdings to this new world—this small, vibrant planet that seemed to welcome its new masters. And apart from their new home—their new Home world—the system boasted rich resources about its moons and minor planets. It should have been enough. It should have taken millennia for their to be any who wanted more. The orbital stations, the mining platforms, the solar collectors—these great constructions should have brought the wealth and prosperity necessary to keep such a population at ease through the lives of their children's children. They had the technology. The age of scarcity should have ended, and with it, so should have ended the age of war.

Of course, it didn't.

The Scarlet Demesne now stands at the brink of collapse, though few realize it. Threats from both within and without threaten its integrity. Rebel groups seize important city installations—communications arrays, transport receiving platforms, administration buildings—and then collapse on themselves or are quickly wiped out, only to appear as if reincarnated on the other side of the planet. Raiders of unknown origin encroach from the outer edges of the system. Neighboring nations, both interstellar empires and commercial conglomerates wielding the power of their personal armies, seek entrance to the Scarlet system and its resources by force and guile.

But few have any details concerning this. Only vague knowledge, rumors, and censored headlines. Among these stands one young man—a strong but as yet inexperienced lad, trusting of his wit and intuition to keep him safe through life. A bit too trusting, perhaps, as he stands now before a recruiting station to join the Scarlet Navy. All his possessions, few as they are, are in the bag slung over his shoulder. For a man in his position, there are two choices in life. For a man with ambition, there is only one. In war, the fast and the lucky survive. The fast, lucky, and ambitious thrive. He's about ready to make that gamble, and so thinking, looks back down at a sheet of paper, containing all the fruits of his research. With this information, he can as good as choose his assignment. That's the plan, anyway.

[ ] It's an open secret that the ones nicknamed the Silver Knives are the terror of the Scarlet military forces, and led by one of the closest advisors to the Lady herself. Every time one of the enemy's forward bases is suddenly destroyed despite being nowhere near the front lines, every time a rebel group sees their leader explode as he delivers his victory speech over some back-water colony, and every time a foreign saboteur is delivered to the MPs with his head removed from his body, it goes unsaid that it's the work of a Knife.

[ ] Hong Meiling is a paradoxical figure. A foreigner in the homogeneous Demesne, yet one who's risen to command over one of the toughest groups of marines in the entire Navy. Her company has seen action in space, ground, and station combat, both holding the line and pushing it, with the CO never being far from the harshest danger. Heavy weapons and clever use of overwhelming force are her forte, managing to keep most of her men alive despite being given many of the dirtiest missions.

[ ] Some suspect that Flandre was given her post only because of her relation to the Lady. Others suspected that she had no real relation, having seemingly appeared from nowhere. Now the only thing anyone cares about is that she's an unstoppable force on the front line. Her close-assault troops are said to match her insanity—or perhaps her devotion—following her heedless of danger, and emerging from the ashes when every opponent is dust. Or so say the reports, giving her an almost mythic status.

[ ] In addition to being one of the most brilliant minds in the system, the well-known Patchouli Knowledge is more quietly acknowledged for her military achievement, developing the cutting-edge weapon and craft systems that see first use in her own group. While not formally given responsibility over any particular area of the war, it's currently believed that she and her people, who resemble a military company as much as a research team, will be leaving to parts unknown to continue their weapons testing in live situations.

[ ] Screw this. Why not join Cirno's rebels?

Input name
[ ]>

>> No. 27385
[x] Silver Knives
[x] >Harry
>> No. 27386
[x] Silver Hammers
[x] Maxwell Edison (majoring in medicine)
>> No. 27387
>>27386
Sorry, but Beatles references are largely wasted on me.
>> No. 27388
[x] Screw this. Why not join Cirno's rebels?
[x] Edword Tracy Von Newmen VI
>> No. 27389
[X] Flandre's Counter Clocks
[X] Maximillian Sterling
>> No. 27391
Pardon my forgetfulness.

This is first-to-three, as first-to-two seems just slightly excessive, and first-to-one is always rather random. I hope this won't slow.

Write-ins accepted, but should be sufficiently detailed that I know what you're trying to do.

I am still writing CAVE in /others/. I intend this to be faster. The two have little enough in common otherwise.

For any who were curious at a certain omission in the choices: While it is known that the Lady herself enjoys directing the front line from her flagship, and has left the day-to-day running of the Demesne to the council for the past several years, acquiring a post near her would be no easy task. One would need the prestige of a commander's position for any meaningful contact.

As to the other: There's rumored to be a certain bandit cruiser in the system's winter edge, the Depths of Night, but nothing good could possibly come of associating with them. They're likely to be found and wiped out any day now.
>> No. 27392
[X]The Lady's life is on constant danger and she need the best bodyguards one can have. Fortunatly, you are one of them

Well, shit. No lady option makes me sad ;_;

[X] Flandre's Counter Clocks
[X] Sajuuk Khar

>>27387
>Sorry, but Beatles references are largely wasted on me.

How about a Homeworld one?
>> No. 27393
I did not expect anything new to be born on /sdm/, at least not for a long while.

[X] Flandre's Counter Clocks
[X] Sajuuk Khar

>Sajuuk-Khar

So, our weapon is Sajuuk? I can get behind this. Though that name would probably be more fitting to Meiling's campany. But I like Flandre more, so I vote for her.
>> No. 27394
>>27389

I almost yelled at you to update RaAN. Then I read your name and saw you aren't Ted.

So I decided to yell at you to update A Stubborn, Wild Responsibility.

UPDATE
>> No. 27395
>>27394

Seriously, it was getting so interesting and then he just let it die off.
>> No. 27396
>>27392
Not as wasted, no.

Did you mean S'jet (or possibly Makaan)? Well, going with what was written.

That is to say, writing in a moment. Maybe a bit more background since the subject was brought up...
>> No. 27397
>>27396

Sajuuk-Khar is the one who controls Sajuuk, that huge, overpowered spaceship that you spend the whole game looking for and uses on the last stage, only.

Dunno what is S'jet, and Makaan is the evil guy, so no.
>> No. 27399
>>27397
The Vaygr worshipped Makaan as Sajuuk-Khar, but Karan S'jet controlled the Sajuuk in the end. Thus, I'm pretty sure it's a title, in the same vein as Kwisatz Haderach.

Since there actually aren't three votes on a name, should I wait on that decision?
>> No. 27402
[X] Flandre's Counter Clocks
[X] Sajuuk Khar
>> No. 27404
[X] Flandre's Counter Clocks
[X] Sajuuk Khar
>> No. 27406
>>27399

Eh, I think Sajuuk-Khar is a badass title enough to be used a name too.
>> No. 27409
Choice entered: Join “Flandre's Counter Clocks”
Identity entered. Welcome, Sajuuk Khar.

The recruitment forms are a kind of interview in themselves. There's no lie-detector here (that you can see), but you know similar equipment will be used at some point before your post-basic assignment. There's that rumor about “loyalty detectors” being built into the armored suits, too, but that's probably nonsense. Only a Komeiji system could do something like that, and there's no way those freaks would be allowed to touch Scarlet military technology. But it doesn't matter. Whatever the test, you'll pass it. Your determination is real, even if some of your background is carefully doctored to match what you know they'll look for.

The thought occurs to you to try for the Lady's personal guard. But while you know she must have one—it stands to reason—no one has any idea who they are. It could be a group like the Knives, but less active. There hasn't been news of an attack coming anywhere close to the Lady in the past ten years. Except for that business last year, where a lone, bomb-carrying assassin somehow got onto the bridge of the Hand of Fate, and somehow forgot that all naval COs wear low-profile powered suits while on duty. He went in practically naked, to avoid detection. Poor bastard.

But ah, Flandre's Counter Clocks. That's the outfit for you. Few things could be more risky, but nothing could be as rewarding as proving yourself deep in the fires of close combat. You've got the speed and they'll give you the training. What could be better?

And so, without any worries, you sign the form Sajuuk Khar. It's as good a name to go by as any, to be sure. A name of invaluable ambition.

***

Basic was rough. No rougher than expected, but you're glad it's over. What was worse was making sure to show the exact skills you wanted them to notice, and trying to keep on top of the training group. That didn't quite work out, but doing better... might have been asking too much. No, that's defeatist thought. And it's all behind you now.

Finally, comes the transfer orders:
Commander Flandre's Counter Clocks

It goes on to describe your immediate position, superior, executive officer, and directions for travel, and you go on reading, but none of that's important. What matters is that you'll be working under the mythic, infamous Flandre, just as planned.

Next stop, the off-world training base, on one of the moons around around the fourth planet, a gas giant named Ketyr.

***

This is boring. Boring, boring, boring. You're holed up in your cabin. You haven't been given strict orders to stay here, but there's this distinct impression that you're meant to. You know someone will stop you if you don't have a good reason for being somewhere else. And there are interesting things elsewhere on the ship. Useful things. And you won't reach the Ketyr base for days. Having to work hard every day was one thing, but this anticipatory boredom is maddening with a goal so close. Fine, then.

[ ] The KOA9 is a sleek new fighter/bomber just being put into active service. There are several of them in the hangar, on their way to the training base. Getting a good look at them wouldn't hurt... or at anything else in the hangar, like the ground-skimmers.

[ ] Shipboard armories, at least on troop transports, are customarily stocked with every weapon likely to be in use by any arm of the marines. From flechette pistol to SAW to flamer to claw, it'll be there. And maybe you could get the warrant officer on duty to let you see them. You can almost remember a regulation stating any unarmed enlisted man to be allowed a withdrawal during transport.

[ ] Whatever, you'll see what you need when you get there. There's no reason to risk trouble here.
>> No. 27411
>>KOA9

Oh u.
>> No. 27412
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27412
>>27411
More like "Oh, Japan."

It doesn't look like this, by the way.
>> No. 27413
[x] Shipboard armories, at least on troop transports, are customarily stocked with every weapon likely to be in use by any arm of the marines. From flechette pistol to SAW to flamer to claw, it'll be there. And maybe you could get the warrant officer on duty to let you see them. You can almost remember a regulation stating any unarmed enlisted man to be allowed a withdrawal during transport.

Gotta be badass in the flesh before you can be badass in the cockpit.
>> No. 27420
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27420
>>What matters is that you'll be working under the mythic, infamous Flandre, just as planned.

I look forward to seeing his reaction when he learns that his commander is an unstable little blonde girl with a funny hat.
>> No. 27424
>>27394
>I almost yelled at you to update RaAN.
...You too, huh?
>> No. 27426
[x] The KOA9 is a sleek new fighter/bomber just being put into active service. There are several of them in the hangar, on their way to the training base. Getting a good look at them wouldn't hurt... or at anything else in the hangar, like the ground-skimmers.
>> No. 27430
>The thought occurs to you to try for the Lady's personal guard. But while you know she must have one—it stands to reason—no one has any idea who they are. It could be a group like the Knives, but less active.

I am delighted and pissed off at the same time.
>Having to work hard every day was one thing, but this anticipatory boredom is maddening with a goal so close.
>maddening

I think that's how it is supposed to be.

[X] The KOA9 is a sleek new fighter/bomber just being put into active service. There are several of them in the hangar, on their way to the training base. Getting a good look at them wouldn't hurt... or at anything else in the hangar, like the ground-skimmers.
>> No. 27434
[x] The KOA9 is a sleek new fighter/bomber just being put into active service. There are several of them in the hangar, on their way to the training base. Getting a good look at them wouldn't hurt... or at anything else in the hangar, like the ground-skimmers.
>> No. 27437
[x] The KOA9 is a sleek new fighter/bomber just being put into active service. There are several of them in the hangar, on their way to the training base. Getting a good look at them wouldn't hurt... or at anything else in the hangar, like the ground-skimmers.
>> No. 27438
[x] The KOA9 is a sleek new fighter/bomber just being put into active service. There are several of them in the hangar, on their way to the training base. Getting a good look at them wouldn't hurt... or at anything else in the hangar, like the ground-skimmers.
>> No. 27440
Choice entered: Check out the hangar

This is boring, so why not go somewhere else? Shirt, pants, and shoes you can get dirty, check. ID tags, check. Let's go.

Getting out of the room is easy. Getting to the nearest lift is easy. Finding a way down to the hangar deck proves slightly more difficult. Still no sign of anyone else. The ship time is somewhere in the middle of the late evening shift, but your movement's taken you toward the main crew quarters, and it's enough to make you edgy. Then you find a drop tunnel labeled “H A N G A R”. Finally.

Unfortunately, it's a controlled gravity shaft. While this is good in that it gets you somewhere quickly and in one piece, it's bad in that you haven't had a chance to yet get used to a device that works, entirely separate of the ship's own gravity systems, by constantly accelerating or decelerating its cargo to whatever stress forces the designers deemed optimal in combat situations. You do, at least, land on your feet. Landing on anything else might not have let you walk it off.

And holy crap, that's a big winged, armored, weapon-thing. Perhaps the one thing video feeds could never quite have impressed on you is the scale of exoatmospheric craft. Even the single-seat KOA9, by no means as large as a BD-8 Bowbreaker bomber, or even a light deep-space fighter like the Pisces class, is still enough to dwarf the ground craft across the hold. Hell, you could fit a skimmer in one of those ammo boxes under its wings. You assume they're for ammunition, anyway. Might get a closer look at that, too.

Recalling that it's designed for atmospheric combat as well, the wing structure starts to make more sense. You overheard some noncoms saying the marines were all over the thing for hot drop support, so it must have—

“What are you doing on this deck, trainee?”

Maybe a dress uniform would've helped you look more dignified in this situation, but no use thinking about that now. You turn and salute the... ah, that's a sub-lieutenant's bars. Wait, isn't that a training officer's badge? If this is an instructor from the academy on his way to the training base, it could be an opportunity to get some supplementary training approved. If he's in a good mood.

In any case, a good excuse will be needed. You think fast. But whether or not to take advantage of this...

[ ] Express your earnest desire to learn the ins and outs of tactical superiority craft.

[ ] Actually, what you need is more time with some specialized assault weaponry.

[ ] Or rather, you shouldn't be thinking of messing with your training schedule at all at this point. You don't even know what they're planning to teach you.
>> No. 27448
[x] Actually, what you need is more time with some specialized assault weaponry.

I'll probably lose again (I was the one person who voted for going to the armory last time,) but my reasoning remains unshaken. A badass is, by definition, someone who owns in personal combat. We should start with weaponry before familiarizing ourselves with what we'll be flying.
>> No. 27450
[ze] Express your earnest desire to learn the ins and outs of tactical superiority craft.
>> No. 27451
[x] Express your earnest desire to learn the ins and outs of tactical superiority craft.

We fly, and we kill
>> No. 27458
[ ] Express your earnest desire to learn the ins and outs of tactical superiority craft.
>> No. 27462
Choice entered: Learn to fly
Skil gained: 2 (Vehicular)
Note: Skills may be spent on specific training at the end of any training unit.


A respectful but proactive attitude would be appropriate to this situation.

“Couldn't help admiring the craft, sir! Can barely wait until a chance to start learning her abilities, sir!”

The officer just looks at you for a moment. Now, if luck's with you, he'll be aching for something to do as much as you are.

It is, and he was. You spend the next half hour listening, with few interjections, as he explains the KOA9's armament, maneuvering capabilities, and basic tactics, with frequent comparisons to several other spacecraft, but mostly to the ground-based fire support craft. Internal mini-launchers, infinite repeaters, and sixteen different hardpoints for bombs and air-to-air warheads, with scattering munitions being the preferred strategy. Though it's called an all-use fighter/bomber, it doesn't have the bulky generators that make light-speed combat practical, so it's really limited in terms of deep-space combat. In return, it can skim over close-range combat areas (such as planetary surfaces) like a dragonfly, shooting between stationary hovering and its maximum atmospheric speed in a matter of seconds. Some new inertial dampener, that you get the impression no one really understands, prevents this from killing or blacking out the pilot. No wonder the marines were interested in it. It can get in, saturate a covered ground target with explosives, and get out in the time it takes to spit, all without that slow acceleration that makes bombers so susceptible to ground fire, and with greater accuracy.

* * *

Ketyr base is a bland, spartan training facility located on an equally bland moon orbiting what, after you get over the novelty of seeing a bright green orb filling a large section of the sky, an equally bland ball of gas. There isn't even a collection facility in the area, as there are no important resources on any of the moons of Ketyr, nor in its atmosphere. That's probably why it was chosen as the site for a training facility, the expense of shipping all the important goods—whatever can't be built out of the base's modest manufacturing facilities—being judged as worth it to get a site where a hostile force wouldn't think to look.

So traffic is also restricted. Only those who are considered worth giving this kind of training are sent. (There might be a little pride in that.) Right now, in fact, there's only the batch of trainees that came with you and a set of older soldiers here for either specialization or retraining. The moon may not have any animal life, and precious few plants, but it does have a uniquely varied topography that made it easy to construct the external training areas. It's still bland, as it all tends to be the same color and there are no people around apart from your training partners/opponents.

It's a horrible, mind-numbing pain to navigate even with your armor's sensors, and that's why it's used to train close assault troops. Deep in the rock-jungle, with nothing in sight but a kind of moss that grows in the (unbreathable) atmosphere and covers damn near everything it isn't regularly burned off of, you're sent in, either singly or in pairs, and in competition with the other trainees. Slack off and you'll be dumped from the training program and sent back whenever the next transport arrives—which will probably be in several months. Lose too much, and it's the same deal. You can still get indoor-training, but that won't be enough to land your post.

Your post. Your post. You try to think of it that way, just as another reason to keep going. The transfer orders promised it, but they didn't so much lie as fail to mention that actually getting into service would take more than a transfer to Flandre's command. Technically, you're her trainee, not just another rookie in some undefined position near the bottom of the military command structure, but you won't even see her if you don't make this cut. You're not sure what will happen to the people who don't make it. Probably wind up as base-class crew or noncombatant staff. They might get retraining for another role. Or maybe the army takes them instead, and they wind up as grunts.

But that doesn't matter, because it isn't going to happen to you. Despite the 70% fatality rate, you've managed to at least survive four exercises so far. Your fifth has proved... less fortunate. Like the first and third exercises, you were paired up before being sent to your deployment area and told the current mission goal. Infiltration, this time. Just getting to another area without getting caught. You passed the same kind of scenario before, but that was on your own. Now your partner has gone down, a hit from a training weapon locking down his armor and putting him to sleep, and you were forced to leave him behind as you escaped the opposition.

So here you are, on your own, with some unknown number of enemies between you and the goal. The ravine you've gone into is steep and narrow, but easily traversable if you rise up enough to kick off the wall, sailing along in low-g and with your armor's power support. Unfortunately, there's at least two enemy teams that seem to be working together, while you know of no one on your side, and you only confirmed taking out one of their four. Just jumping out would be suicide.

You do, however, have a flashbang in addition to your pistol. This is probably the time to use it.

[ ] Double back to a split in the canyon and try to find another route to the goal.

[ ] Wait for reinforcements. You're facing more than one team, so they must have set more than one on your side.

[ ] Double back, work your armor to kick off both walls up and out of the canyon when you're out of sight, and attack from above. Flashbang, then pot shots.

[ ] Slowly make your way forward using the rocks at the bottom of the canyon as cover, and throw the flashbang when you're in charging range. Then go in blazing.
>> No. 27463
[x] Double back, work your armor to kick off both walls up and out of the canyon when you're out of sight, and attack from above. Flashbang, then pot shots.

This is like The Forever War by Joe Haldeman. I like that.
>> No. 27464
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27464
>>27462
>>spartan training facility

Y u do this?
>> No. 27465
>>27463
Cold war era scifi is best scifi. In my experience.

>>27464
I'm fairly sure that that is entirely your own fault, since the word cannot be construed as a noun.
>> No. 27466
Before I answer, tell us more about our situation and abilities.

-Are we especially skilled in close quarters combat?
-How about marksmanship?
-Are our only weapons a pistol and the flashbang?
-What's the accuracy and precision of our firearm like?
-How much elevation would the canyon walls offer?
-Is the surrounding cover solid enough to withstand shots from training weapons?
-How much cover is there?

>>27464
Get tactical, marines!
>> No. 27467
>>27466
So picky.

You've been through basic. You're good, but you lack specialized training, which is what you're currently working on.

Your marksmanship is well above average.

You do not have other armaments, apart from your survival knife. While it is sharp and well-balanced, stabbing your fellow trainees is strongly discouraged.

At the ranges you could possibly encounter an enemy in this environment, your pistol is accurate enough that being the first to correctly point your weapon is more important than having steadier aim.

The canyon's lip is twenty yards up. It is also in a canyon, but one that is wide enough that it does not matter greatly.

The training weapons have very low energy output and will not affect the terrain. They only knock you out thanks to a drug system built into the training armor. (Though even if the drug system were disabled, the armor itself would become immobile, with only the communication and life support systems working until retrieval.)

The bottom of the canyon has a lot of cover, if you crouch, and enough space between pieces to crawl forward in relative safety, or sprint short distances. The canyon behind you twists frequently, while remaining narrow.
>> No. 27469
File 123853049192.jpg - (87.78KB , 800x600 , tapeta2_800x600.jpg ) [iqdb]
27469
[x] Double back, work your armor to kick off both walls up and out of the canyon when you're out of sight, and attack from above. Flashbang, then pot shots.

Insure the geography that you stands compares them superior.
>> No. 27470
[x] Double back, work your armor to kick off both walls up and out of the canyon when you're out of sight, and attack from above. Flashbang, then pot shots.
>> No. 27472
[x] Double back, work your armor to kick off both walls up and out of the canyon when you're out of sight, and attack from above. Flashbang, then pot shots.
>> No. 27474
Choice entered: Up the wall

You fade back, stepping carefully to avoid giving away your exact position to any aural sensors. The canyon makes that kind of detection almost useless, but even a vague reading could get you caught at just the wrong moment, if they're feeling brave enough to come straight at you. This can only work if they're cautious.

Once you're well out of sight, you stand between the narrowest point in this section, and look up, to where it narrows further. The wind-smoothed rocks give no handholds, of course. That would be too much to hope for. And the training armor is nothing like the real thing—well, no, that's wrong. Its performance and use are almost the same as a standard-issue light powered suit, though with decreased upper limits on its power output. It still uses the same instant-response power amplification, which in combat mode is enough to more than triple a typical soldier's strength. Conveniently, you don't even need to push to your full strength to reach the maximum. Coupled with the decreased gravity and some good physical conditioning, and this should be easy. Maybe. Possible, anyway. Too bad it can't improve your reactions.

You take two steps forward and to the side, foot hitting the wall and carrying you up. Another two steps up the wall, and you kick off and twist to the opposite for another kick with the other leg. This isn't nearly enough height, but you're almost to where the walls come close enough together—another twist, kick, twist, a double-footed casting off and you stretch up your hands to slap into both walls. Yes! You're... not falling yet, but you will in a moment, with your arms extended this much and still no hold in sight. Pushing the arms' power response to the highest it'll give you, you push yourself up, scraping the rock-moss off in the process. Bend your knees up under you, turn to the side, and there—

Now you're sitting with your neck and upper back to one wall and your feet on the opposite, something between fifteen and twenty yards up. That wasn't so hard. Time to take a breath and see if you've still got time.

You do. They haven't come out after you yet. At least, they're not in sight, and you have a pretty good view of the cover between your previous position and theirs. You make it up the rest of the way without significant trouble, and onto a far wider canyon floor, run through with cracks from inches to yards across, and studded with standing stone formations, each some five to thirty yards high. There's no one in sight.

Scattered pinpoints of color are projected onto an opaque section of your visor, indicating sensor responses. Noise down in the canyon, in this case, judging by the center of activity. Another marker notes the direction of your objective with much greater precision.

About twenty seconds later, you've taken a look down and spotted one body, dragged to the side, and two live suits standing to either side of a branch. Further in is the third live opponent, nearly at the spot you'd been standing at. By the time one of them looks up, the flashbang has already landed not five feet from him. You duck back and switch off your pickups.

Instinctively diving for cover, you observe, doesn't do any good when you don't know where the enemy is. It takes two seconds and four shots to confirm the first two down, followed by one final shot as the last trainee runs back in a panic. His suit freezes mid-stride, sending him tripping and crashing into the wall.

Too easy.

* * *

Your performance, as near as you can figure the instructors judge it, is excellent. Not the first to finish in most cases, but you haven't failed a test yet, and pass/fail is the only visible grading for these kind of exercises. So you're not sure why you've been confined to the base for the last while. Tactics and military theory, overviews of other companies and battle history, these things are all interesting on some level, but they aren't what you expected to be doing after being in the only team to finish the 9th exercise without casualties. A wide-area, multi-target crawl with four-man teams and a hostile artillery simulation (that you could have sworn was using live ammo)—that has to count for something.

But still, here you are. There aren't that many others left on base, and there isn't really anyone to talk to... so you sit at a computer.

Maybe there's something good to read. You call up some article summaries.

[ ] Lunar Empire. Reports to its age being unverifiable, it is only certain that it exceeds 1400 Terran/Lunar years, and that its system of government has not changed since...

[ ] White Jade Penitentiary. Initially believed to be only a maximum security prison under joint governmental control, it has since been suspected that the White Jade Project has been experimenting...

[ ] Border Worlds Merc. & Research Co. According to its CEO, the “Merc.” actually can mean both “mercantile” and “mercenary” simultaneously, though this was then stated to be a joke. Regardless, the group's power...

[ ] Human Protection Initiative: Alleged to exist solely for the protection of “humanity,” but due to differences of opinion on its definition, also referred to as the “Human Purity Initiative” (derogatory)...

Skill gained: 1 (Armor)
Note: Sometimes multivoting doesn't work, for various reasons.
>> No. 27475
Is this too much? I have the feeling I should be making smaller updates.

I meant this to be faster, but it's hardly faster if I write that much.
>> No. 27476
[x] White Jade Penitentiary. Initially believed to be only a maximum security prison under joint governmental control, it has since been suspected that the White Jade Project has been experimenting...
>> No. 27477
[ ] White Jade Penitentiary. Initially believed to be only a maximum security prison under joint governmental control, it has since been suspected that the White Jade Project has been experimenting...
>> No. 27478
>>27475

As long as it doesn't cramp up your writing style or drain your brain of ideas, it's cool.
>> No. 27481
[x] White Jade Penitentiary. Initially believed to be only a maximum security prison under joint governmental control, it has since been suspected that the White Jade Project has been experimenting...

Freaking yes. I love this story already. Even more if we get Lightning Claws.
>> No. 27483
[z] White Jade Penitentiary. Initially believed to be only a maximum security prison under joint governmental control, it has since been suspected that the White Jade Project has been experimenting...

And if there's time

[e] Human Protection Initiative: Alleged to exist solely for the protection of “humanity,” but due to differences of opinion on its definition, also referred to as the “Human Purity Initiative” (derogatory)..
>> No. 27484
[x] Border Worlds Merc. & Research Co. According to its CEO, the “Merc.” actually can mean both “mercantile” and “mercenary” simultaneously, though this was then stated to be a joke. Regardless, the group's power...
>> No. 27486
[x] Human Protection Initiative: Alleged to exist solely for the protection of “humanity,” but due to differences of opinion on its definition, also referred to as the “Human Purity Initiative” (derogatory)...

My armpit sense is tingling...
>> No. 27488
[x] Border Worlds Merc. & Research Co. According to its CEO, the “Merc.” actually can mean both “mercantile” and “mercenary” simultaneously, though this was then stated to be a joke. Regardless, the group's power...
>> No. 27499
Updates. We need them.
>> No. 27500
Choice entered: WJP

You select the article, and see...

White Jade Penitentiary

...followed by some rapidly scrolling text. Scanning back through it, the information seems rather general, so you skim for a bit.

...located six jumps toward autumn, and eight jumps Libra-ward of old Earth, the White Jade...

...gained significant support from Xanadu and, indeed, 78% of inmates were sent directly from the Gray Court...

...expansionist policy was decried, particularly by the HPI, but not loudly enough to bring about significant action, and the takeover continued...

...support was naturally cut off, as per the Court's orders on ethical treatment of prisoners. The process, named “ghosting,” involves a selective but nearly complete neural wipe of the subject, leaving an easily trained and highly loyal...

...lack of general experience appears to effect a loss of basic reason, rendering the subject unfit for command positions, leaving the soldiers in the tactical hands of...


The computer beeps, the article disappearing behind a message frame.

Private Khar: Report to: East gate: Immediately.

The message is marked as coming from an instructor , but no name is attached, and the structure makes it look like something automatically generated. The west gate is where you usually start for exercises, with the east gate nearer the vehicle pool. You'd have to grab a breather at the least. The atmosphere won't kill you unless you inhale it for a few hours, but the low oxygen would knock you out in minutes. Armor, including your training armor, solves this problem, but the armory has never been open any time but when you were specifically told to go there, which you always have been prior to an exercise—and besides that, it's at the west end of the base.

Immediately, huh.

[ ] Wait here for some kind of clarification.

[ ] Grab your breather mask, get dressed, and go right now.

[ ] Grab your breather mask, get dressed, take your survival knife and go right now.

[ ] Check the armory first.
>> No. 27501
[x] Grab your breather mask, get dressed, take your survival knife and go right now.
>> No. 27502
[x] Grab your breather mask, get dressed, take your survival knife and go right now.
>> No. 27503
[ ] Grab your breather mask, get dressed, take your survival knife and go right now.
>> No. 27504
[x] Grab your breather mask, get dressed, and go right now.

Are we supposed to walk around base armed?
>> No. 27506
I can't believe I am still writing this update. It has been awhile. This could get messy. Sorry, if so.

>>27504
Not unless you have a reason to, no.
>> No. 27507
Choice entered: Grab knife, go

You quickly throw your clothes onto your bunk, donning the tightly form-fitting, well insulated fatigues favored for even casual activity in such an environment. It doesn't get too cold out there—well, not any colder than a northern winter back on Home, thanks to the base being located in one of the warmer areas of the moon. Leaving the top slightly undone gives you room to stash your knife by your waist without it being completely obvious. And then, over your face, the breather mask, with visor attached, and a spare tank attached to a clip at your belt. As you touch your door, you pause, and wedge the thin knife sheathe in further and flat against you to stop its movement, then undo the securing strap over the hilt. That's better.

The base is as quiet as it was two hours ago when you returned from the canteen. There'd been only a couple other trainees and an off-duty guard at the time, and you'd seen no one while walking back. Now, again, you see no one.

It doesn't take you long to reach the reinforced shelter of the cycling lock. Leaving it behind, and stepping out under the open sky, you see a small red light on the controls by the door. A sudden suspicion is quickly confirmed. The door locked behind you. Unless someone simply chose that time to lock it from the inside, this means someone probably set it to lock after the next time it was used. You feel... exposed. This is definitely not supposed to be happening. There aren't even any exterior guards on duty now, unless they're all on the west side, not that a training facility ever has a heavy guard presence... Nowhere to go for cover, except around any side of the building.

The building. The walls of the cycling lock. If there's anywhere to hide, it would be around one side of the cycling lock. There's no one in sight even though you were called here. Fuck.

Someone must be hiding just around the wall.

Stupid, stupid, stupid. Should have figured this out five seconds sooner. Without you walking toward the gate and into their view, they'll be suspicious. Who are they? Doesn't matter, no time to think of that, you have to move.

You've got your knife. You've never been a praying man, and only a fool would pray to them, but thank the Moirae you brought a knife at the least. Not the time to draw it yet, but it's comforting. Now, somewhere to hide that isn't one of the only places to hide, that is the impossible task presented to you—

The roof. If they were there you'd have been seen by now, so they must not be there. You look up. It's only about ten feet—nothing at all. A running start would be too loud, so you jump, stretch, grab at the armored hull, drop, crouch, and jump higher. You get the edge, and pull your knees up, then flex your legs to smoothly hop up, rolling onto the roof. There's no one here. You lay still. You settle the knife into your right hand, held point-down, and lay still. Then you crawl silently forward and peer over the edge.

A training suit is standing there. The suit belongs to—you don't recall a face, but you recall the 46 designation. As to a name, was it Barder? Whoever it was, you remember number 46. You shot him from nearly point-blank in in the 8th exercise, so close you could see each other's faces—which means you should probably remember his face, though you can't see it from here. You don't remember it from the ranking list, but you only remember the ones consistently in the top five or ten positions. So he probably isn't one of them.

And from the long, flat crowbar in his hands—a blunt instrument, for blunt trauma—he probably planned to kill you and toss your body in a ravine, to not be found for months, and then thought an accidental fall. It's plausible. It wouldn't be the first body found with a smashed head at the bottom of a fifty yard cliff, dressed only in a breather and cold-weather fatigues. Your mind races ahead, trying to fit the pieces together (as it's no good fitting things together when they're over and done with). Hacking the base messaging system isn't impossible, not for anyone with a technician's background, even at the half-trained level. And if someone did, they could also find the schedules for most of the base personnel. Getting the system to send a muster request at that point, and setting a door to lock—trivial, in comparison. And he must have arranged for a key.

Very well. You know what you have to do. If you didn't, why bring a knife?

Is there any reasonable alternative?

He's locked you out and he must have the key. Behind you, from the base proper and onward, the roof isn't even accessible, without the boost from your armor. From this small area, wherever you get down, he could hear—no, he'll definitely hear. His suit's sensors will already be on. He just hasn't figured out you went up yet, and that's why he's double-checking the door's lock. Then he'll assume you either left out the gate, or—

He looks up. You jump down. You don't think.

The knife plunges with all the force of your double-handed, downward thrust, left hand pushing down on the round hilt as the right holds its aim steady, straight into his neck. You miss, but only slightly, hitting higher than intended as you fell into him, knocking him down. The blade slides down the helmet's lowest plate, sparking, shifting right into the soft material of the neck joint, its fullerene-reinforced steel parting the light armor mesh so easily that the flesh behind seems as resistant as wet paper. His face is frozen now, in a mask of pain and horror—shock and terror. As the armor detects his failing life signs, it (invisibly, though you knew it would) administers painkillers, anti-shock drugs, and then locks in an easily-opened laying position, ready to receive medical treatment, uselessly. From the spray of blood and fluids that splashed the inside of his visor, and the ragged, leaking hole left by your strike, it's obvious to anyone that there's no saving him now.

Now, to remove the body. You might thank him, at least, for preparing an arena that wouldn't end your career. That is, one that wouldn't end the victor's career.

* * *

Six months in basic. About five months on Ketyr. Fifteen training exercises, all over this forsaken, mossy rock, and each one longer than the last. You won't miss it, you promise. Or rather, you hope. You don't want to end up somewhere where you'll miss the boring view and the maze-like terrain and the instructors that grow harsher with every passing week and the fellow trainees that grow more competitive and hostile as their numbers dwindle. Some got what they were looking for. Their orders came in, and they'll ship out to where they wanted to go. Some just want out—they've had their fill of army life, and realized they didn't have the stomach for more. Those ones will end up working supplies if they're lucky, or garrisons, up until their tour's over. Others are still hoping, but they haven't found their goal yet.

No one has found private Barder. He is believed to have died while off-duty, likely due to a malfunction in his suit, as his armor is missing and its tracking device was not operational.

Today, new orders came in. They bore a noble's seal that anyone would recognize, as there are only two people authorized to use it—and for its forgery, death would be the kinder fate. Of those two, one is the Lady, whose authority would never be questioned. The other is her sister.

In one week, you go to your commander, Flandre Scarlet.

Your equipment is being prepared. It will be sent with you, what of it could be made in the facilities here. You have this one week to familiarize yourself with it, which is more than some receive. Fortunately, little of it should be much different than what you've used in the firing range.
>> No. 27508
File 123874914714.jpg - (310.89KB , 566x800 , bc3a568f7455d70200fee283b1d79619.jpg ) [iqdb]
27508
Skill gained: 1 (Melee)
Training complete: Pistols (Energy, Solid Projectile)
Training complete: Assault Rifles (Energy, Solid Projectile)
Training complete: Knives (Utility, Combat, Vibro)
Training complete: Grenades (Fragmentation, Flashbang, Scrambler)
Training complete: Vehicles (Ground-skimmer)
Training complete: Armor (Light Assault)
Rank gained. Congratulations, Corporal Sajuuk Khar.

End of training unit. Entering purchase menu.
Filter locked. Only items with filled prerequisites will be shown.
Note: Additional training opportunities will be present between missions, assuming survival.
Total remaining skill: 1 Melee, 1 Armor, 2 Vehicular

[ ] Light Scout Armor (1 Armor). Scout armor affords less protection than other models, but benefits from the greatest mobility due to its decreased weight and high power-to-weight efficiency. It is able to function for the longest periods without rest or refueling, thanks to this same efficiency, and also boasts improved sensor and stealth capabilities. The light version is primarily used for long-range reconnaissance.

[ ] Assault Armor (2 Armor). Assault armor is designed with close combat in mind, and thus offers increased mobility, allowing quicker and more powerful movement, while keeping adequate protection from direct enemy fire. The design is especially effective at resisting direct-contact weapons, including all melee weapons. Due to the demands placed on it, its efficiency is among the lowest of powered armors, and it is not intended for extended use without support. The medium version has strengthened defensive power without sacrificing significant mobility or stealth. It is favored by veterans everywhere.

[ ] Light Battle Armor (1 Armor). Battle armor offers the highest versatility of all forms, but more than that, offers the heaviest protection at any level. Interlocking plates and absorption layers make it particularly effective at weathering small arms and explosives. Its mobility is merely average, while its efficiency is moderately high. The light version is standard issue to most infantry combat groups.

[ ] Aerial Jets (1 Armor). While all powered armor includes some form of space propulsion device for EVA in the absence of gravity, these are insufficient while on planetary surfaces. This jet system grants the armor a powerful jump capability, allowing a few long-range or many short-range hops before refueling is necessary. The lighter and more mobile the armor, the more effective the jump.

[ ] Vibroblade (1 Melee). Vibro weapons come in a variety of shapes and styles, but all function in much the same way. A power source induces a high-frequency vibration along the killing length of the weapon once the weapon is activated, producing an audible hum and substantially increasing the weapon's ability to break through armor. “Vibroblade” refers to sword-like weapons of this kind, which are typically one-and-a-half handed.

[ ] Power Knife (1 Melee). Power weapons also come in a variety of shapes and styles, and also all function similarly. A power source channels energy through a specially conductive layer of the weapon, raising it to a high-energy state that reacts with the target on impact, causing melting, cracking, buckling, and general destruction, even disregarding the force of the weapon itself. Presently, the specifics of these reactions are not well-understood. A power knife is a dagger-like weapon.

[ ] Claws (2 Melee). Though given various, often colorful names, some simply know these as “claws.” A variety of power weapon built into specially prepared armor attachments, these are always used in pairs, with four 12” to 20” spines extending from above the knuckles or down the fingers of each hand. They are considered a highly specialized weapon and are difficult to properly use.

[ ] Light Transport Craft (1 Vehicular). This includes training for all light (2-8 man) transports, both ground and air/space. They are typically fast, unarmed (but for removable support weapons), and lightly armored, used more for quick response than protection.

[ ] Ground Fighting Support (1 Vehicular). This includes training with all armed ground combat/transport units such as the AG-07 Agni, with its turret-mounted infinite repeater, good maneuverability and four-man capacity. Vehicles in this category have low to medium armor, medium to high speed, low carrying capacity, and at least one heavy weapon or hardpoint.

[ ] Air Combat Support (2 Vehicular). This includes training for all atmospheric combat support craft such as the SP-09 Sylphae. Vehicles in this category tend toward decent maneuverability, low speed, and large numbers of weapon hardpoints, being little more than flying weapon platforms.

[ ] Light Fighter/Bombers (2 Vehicular). This includes training with all of the high-speed, space-capable fighter/bombers favored for short-range work in planetary and station combat. They typically favor speed and versatility over firepower, and firepower over range and armor. Though all are capable of interplanetary travel, such a trip would take weeks without extra fuel.
>> No. 27509
[x] Light Fighter/Bombers

Save our other melee and armor skill points to get claws and assault armor next time we have access to this menu and the points are available, or hell, we might have something even more tempting at that point which requires more points than we would have recieved and be unable to afford it had we not saved up.
>> No. 27510
>>Save our other melee and armor skill points to get claws and assault armor next time we have access to this menu and the points are available, or hell, we might have something even more tempting at that point which requires more points than we would have recieved and be unable to afford it had we not saved up.

Agreed. We've already got light assault armor, pistol, assault rifle, and knife proficiency. That should be enough. We'll probably have to keep on our toes a bit more, but it should pay off in the long run.

Maybe, with the writer's permission, we could even attempt to dual wield knives in preparation for claws later on (and I do intend to follow through on the Lightning Claws.) Akimbo pistols'd be pushing it, though...

[x] Air Combat Support (2 Vehicular). This includes training for all atmospheric combat support craft such as the SP-09 Sylphae. Vehicles in this category tend toward decent maneuverability, low speed, and large numbers of weapon hardpoints, being little more than flying weapon platforms.

If we're going to be rolling with Flandre, the queen of motherfucking destruction, this is the only way to go.
>> No. 27511
Forgot to say, meant to say:

Scramblers: A smoke grenade, but better. In an age where even personal armor can read energy signatures from a kilometer off, a scrambler can block visible light while also confounding IR, radar, and the like. All common detection wavelengths are absorbed, reflected, or otherwise obscured. Communications are not affected, which makes it useful to have these in conjunction with a spotter.

>>27510
>Maybe, with the writer's permission, we could even attempt to dual wield knives in preparation for claws later on (and I do intend to follow through on the Lightning Claws.) Akimbo pistols'd be pushing it, though...

You'll have a limited load-out. It will be selected during deployment. It's possible to take two of a weapon. With certain weapons it's even useful, but for the most part, having two of something doesn't make you any deadlier with it. If you can stick someone with a power knife, for instance, it's only slightly better to stick them with two power knives at the same time. The difference in lethality is small.

Power claws are used as they are (in pairs) for two reasons. One is convenience. A hand armed with a claw can still use other weapons, though it will need to drop them to use the claw most effectively, and so needing to switch hands would be inconvenient. Two is overkill, for those rare times it isn't overkill.
>> No. 27512
>>27511

It's true that having dual melee weapons doesn't make much of a difference in terms of lethality; slashing someone cleanly with a vibroblade will usually kill him well enough to not warrant slashing him again with your off hand. The reason we'd carry two would be, if anything, for the same reason someone would use two weapons in the olden days. Against another opponent armed with a melee weapon, having an extra hand to strike and parry with makes a big difference. Due to the fact that melee has become a perfectly viable option for combat (no doubt thanks to the inception of power armor and shielding and such) I'd expect we'd encounter at least a few enemies that we'd have to clash blades with.

Also, a quick question about power claws: in the case of knuckle-mounted ones, wouldn't it be possible for them to be retractable? I mean, sure, it'd restrict the angles that your can bend your wrists in, since they'd be stored along the forearms and the backs of the user's hands, but...
>> No. 27513
>>27512

Actually, better yet, what if they folded, with the pivot being located on the back of the wrist itelf?
>> No. 27514
Sorry for having to ask. How many skills can we choose?
>> No. 27515
>>27514
>Total remaining skill: 1 Melee, 1 Armor, 2 Vehicular
>> No. 27517
>>27516

No, no you aren't...
>> No. 27518
I shouldn't write after 5am...

>>27512
You are mostly correct. There are a few situations in which having multiple melee weapons is useful. One is in when your opponent is equally well-equipped. You can destroy his weapon by using one of a higher tier, or overreach him with a longer weapon, but if neither of these is the case, it's good to have two where he has one. That's another way of out-equipping him.

Remember that attacking is always easier than defending. Especially if you have armor designed for mobility. Defending against a charge is terribly difficult, and more so without an advantage in reach.

Melee weapons are viable in this war, but I feel I should explain exactly why. Armor is the main reason, as vibro and power weapons are the most efficient when it comes to ripping apart armor, the alternative being too much ammunition and/or a heavy weapon. Stronger power weapons can even destroy armored vehicles in short order, which is one of the cases in which claws aren't overkill.

The second reason is high-mobility armor, specifically. A successful assault deployment closes the range very quickly. Guns aren't useless at point-blank, but they are slightly less useful than same-level blades. When you favor a tactic, you want every edge concerning that tactic.

Third is boarding combat. Heavy weapons and explosives have the tendency to violate the structural integrity of spacecraft. Small arms are enough against most targets, given a defensive position, but when the enemy is using heavy assault armor, no gun safe to use in the outer corridor of a ship will bring him down before he hits you. Twice.

Even then, forgoing melee is far more viable than forgoing ranged. Assault troops are the only ones who really care about power weapons. Main battle groups prefer heavy weapons as their solution to armored targets. Scout troops prefer avoidance, or explosives. Melee and boarding are usually avoidable.

Shielding exists, but personal shields are extremely rare. Heavy vehicles and above are usually so equipped. These are not very approachable targets.

>>27513
The powering unit is located behind the claws. This could be built further back in the arm, allowing for retraction (flexible metal cords keep secured contact with the power source), at the cost of making the overall size even bulkier. (Power claws certainly couldn't be used without armor.)

Having it pivot out and lay back against the arm, reversed--was that the suggestion? This would be less workable.

>>27516
Unfortunately not. The amount purchased must be equal or less than your current skill total. Skill is currency, training is what you buy with it, in the terminology I chose. And skills cannot be applied outside their category.

Total remaining skill: 1 Melee, 1 Armor, 2 Vehicular
>> No. 27520
>>27508
[X] Air Combat Support (2 Vehicular)

I endorse sitting on our armor and melee skills for the time being.
>> No. 27521
[x] Air Combat Support (2 Vehicular)
>> No. 27522
[x] Air Combat Support (2 Vehicular)
>> No. 27523
[x] Light Scout Armor (1 Armor).
[x] Power Knife (1 Melee).
[x] Light Fighter/Bombers (2 Vehicular).
>> No. 27524
[x] Air Combat Support (2 Vehicular)

There, fixed.
>> No. 27525
if only one, then:
[X] Air Combat Support (2 Vehicular).

if we can have more than one:
[X] ACS and
[X] Power Knife (1 Melee).
>> No. 27526
Just making sure everyone knows:
>>We've already got light assault armor, pistol, assault rifle, and knife proficiency (with survival, combat, and vibro knives.)
>> No. 27527
Exiting purchase menu.
Training complete: Vehicles (Air Combat Support)

You unstrap yourself from the simulator for the last time. On the screen, numbers scroll past, detailing every quantitative datum of your virtual efforts. Glancing at just the summary lines: 83% projectile ammunition lost, 100% of rockets fired, 98% chance of surviving sustained damage until repair and rearmament. 64% of enemy units destroyed. 88% of enemy units destroyed or routed. A partial victory, and not truly satisfying. You probably won't be satisfied until you can really use a Sylph of your own—but there aren't any on-base, and the training VTOLs lack armament. At least you're sure you can fly one, though the real thing will be much heavier and thus harder to handle.

Assuming you'll get to use one at all, of course. You've already inspected your issued equipment and, naturally, it's all infantry gear. Standard-issue, even, apart from the vibroknife and for the armor being the deep crimson of the Counter Clocks, rather than the standard green or blue camouflage pattern of most battle companies.

Nothing for it. As instructed, you have yourself ready by 1100, by the transport field in full combat dress. You flex the arm and finger joints, feeling the power of the locks and motors. At full output, you should be able to keep up a 30 mile per hour run, with proportional strength and agility. Your rifle hangs on one shoulder, your sidearm at your opposite hip, and your knife in a sheathe attached to your lower back, ready to be drawn backhanded from your right and swung in the same motion.

The shuttle arrives a few minutes after you do.

* * *

From the shuttle to a larger transport, though not like the affair you reached Ketyr on. Rather than your own room, or even a shared bunk room, you sit in your armor in a hold not unlike that of a combat drop pod, only removing your helmet for comfort. Wherever you're going, it must not be too far away, and there aren't many going the same direction. Of those who are, you see the insignia noting technicians, medical staff, base personnel—but no fighting soldiers.

* * *

The Blade of Ragnarök is a medium cruiser under the direct orders of commander Flandre Scarlet, containing—apart from the ship's own crew—one company of assault marines and all their associated support personnel, several vehicle detachments and their maintenance team, and enough room and supplies to keep all of the above functioning for an extended tour. Manufacturing aboard ship would be impossible, but only occasional resupply is necessary. At this time, judging from the scene you witness while stepping off the transport and onto the floor of the main hangar, the Blade has just finished refilling its holds. Come to think of it, you're part of its resupply, in that sense.

You're met by a midshipman who directs you down toward the other end of the hangar, where you can see a supply craft being unloaded. An enormous figure in heavy assault armor is there, appearing to direct the work—or just yell at people. It's hard to tell at this distance.

As you get closer, you discover first that he is just as big up close, easily a head and a half taller than you (and you're hardly short), and even accounting for the bulk of his armor, built with the body of a dreadnought. His lack of a helmet shows his hair to be brown and in a shaggy, shoulder-length mane. And this close, you can make out the officer's bars near his neck, allowing you to snap to a salute before he fully turns toward you. You stop the amplified motion of your armored hand just before it would carve a new hole in your likewise unhelmeted skull.

“Corporal Sajuuk Khar, reporting as ordered, sir!”

He returns the salute. “First lieutenant Beyer, executive officer under commander Flandre Scarlet. At ease, corporal.” You carefully relax, and he goes on, his voice deep and resonant, almost growling. “You'll be filling a spot on my squad for your first assignment, if nothing too strange happens, so I'll be looking after you until the squads are resorted. In the meantime, you'll be paired with corporal Hunter—Commander on deck!”

Shouting the last words, he stops, turns, and resumes his salute. You follow suit, along with all the nearby crewmen, though they resume their work with a word and gesture from the new arrival. There was something odd about his expression for a moment, but you didn't catch it.

The commander is... surprising. Like every marine you've spotted on deck, she's armored, but you can't identify the model. It is possible, you consider, that she acquired some unique suit out of the Knowledge labs, specially prepared for her. Nothing else could explain the wings. While wing-like structures are common in the design of aerial jets, these just don't make sense. You can't fathom the purpose of the two black rods extending out from just below and behind her neck. Rather, you can't think of what purpose the crystals hanging from those rods could serve. Leading military technology is certainly mysterious.

Further, you didn't expect her to be so... small. Her armor sweeps and curves about her, but adds little to her bulk, and regardless, you're experienced enough to tell the size of a person through armor... most of the time. By your best estimate, she has a child's physique. And a child's f—

—no, not a child's face. You don't know what kind of face this is. Intelligence, energy... what else? (Hunger, a tiny voice says.) An unsettling expression, producing a contradiction of appearance. You are held by the conviction that this person is a threat to your existence. The way she looks at you, sees you... When she speaks, it doesn't help.

“This one is the replacement for Durmstadt, then? Poor Frederica, she broke far too soon, far too easily. Never could have made it—from the start, she was too weak. Tell me, young-little corporal. Tell me how you're not as weak as that. Tell me what will make you break.”

No regulation you can think of provides an appropriate response to this situation.

[ ] Say nothing.

Input speech
[ ]>
>> No. 27528
A few notes.

I am aware (in case you are also aware) that energy weapons cannot be rifled. The term "rifle" is merely very convenient.

A cruiser is a large place. There are many people on it. There are other characters you (Anon) know aboard ship that you (Sajuuk) may not meet, at least for awhile. But in the meantime, there will be original characters. There may be many. It is, after all, hundreds of people. I feel poorly at having to use such a number as I see as possible, but the only alternative is to throw characters into those roles who really don't fit, and I'm sure you don't want to see girls you (Anon, again) know die so soon.

On that note, if anyone was curious, you've avoided 3 Bad Ends so far.

>>27526
is correct. Should I have clarified this? "Training complete" means the training has already been purchased.

>>27525
As many as you can afford. The price is listed with the item, in ()s. The amount you have to spend is your "total remaining skill."

It is now: 1 Melee, 1 Armor
>> No. 27529
[x] >"A thousand foot drop."
>> No. 27531
[X] I don't break, miss. Water doesn't break. It flows.
>> No. 27532
[x] >"Sticks and Stones."
>> No. 27533
We should get Aerial Jets and Scout Armor next time we're at that... thing.

In the mean time, I hope somebody's got something good to say to her.
>> No. 27534
[ze] "I do not break like water does not break: it flows."
>> No. 27535
>>27534
Meant to add:
>>27531
Fuck yeah, Bruce Lee.
>> No. 27540
[X]I break others before they break me.
>> No. 27543
[x] "Water doesn't break, Ma'am: it flows."

We are well on our way to being a badass melee-type fighter.

>>27531
Don't forget, it's MA'AM, not "Miss".
>> No. 27544
>>27543

Well, we could also call her "Lady"... But we're a soldier, not a butler.
>> No. 27545
[x] "Just you, ma'am."
>> No. 27554
[x] "Water doesn't break, Ma'am: it flows."
>> No. 27555
[X] I don't break, miss. Water doesn't break. It flows.
>> No. 27584
Bruce Lee in power armor flying an assault bomber makes me think of that motivator for Exalted.
>> No. 27608
File 123892841848.jpg - (147.28KB , 760x536 , 2yellow.jpg ) [iqdb]
27608
[x] "Water doesn't break, Ma'am: it flows."

Soon as we gain ace status, we're painting our everything yellow & black.
>> No. 27617
[x] "Water doesn't break, Ma'am: it flows."
>> No. 27635
Choice entered: Do not break; flow

“I don't break, ma'am. Water doesn't break. It flows.”

“Ice and water turn to vapor-dust beneath the engine-flames. But we'll be sure to test you well, unbreaking corporal. Beyer? We're leaving now. Get these supply ships off the Blade.”

“Right away, ma'am.”

She turns to go, and—is already gone, disappearing into the passage in a near section of wall. She certainly moves fast. Lieutenant Beyer barks a few orders to the surrounding crew before turning back to you long enough to say, “Quarters toward the bow, just through any passage there and you'll find the signs. First squadron's bunks'll be the farthest starboard. Go see Hunter. Dismissed.”

* * *

Following directions leads you past one section of crew quarters, canteen, a rec room, a number of passages of uncertain destination (and some that looked like maintenance tunnels), and finally to a section marked as marine quarters. It takes another minute to find where your own room is supposed to be, for which keeping your sense of direction is useful. (Starboard. Right.) A man and woman out of uniform are having a conversation in the hall, and asking for corporal Hunter's location grants a quicker result than looking on your own. 402C, so they claimed, and so this door says.

“Yo.”

“Corporal Sajuuk Khar. You're corporal Hunter?”

“Leonard Hunter.” He stands, walking from the room's one desk to the door, and shakes your hand. A well-built man in his mid-twenties, with short hair of a dirty blonde (though longer than anyone's coming out of basic). Blue eyes, and an unusually friendly face. He's dressed as were the two you saw outside—in a short-sleeves shirt and many-pocketed utility pants. Your armor suddenly feels bulky. He continues talking.

“I got the notice we'll be bunking together 'till the next squad shift. You can call me Leo, or Hunter, either one's fine. Okay if I call you Khar? Easier to say.”

You shrug, glancing at the rooms beds. “Doesn't bother me. If I could pose a question first, though—how long until I can take my armor off?”

“Oh, heh. Racks're along the halls outside. No locks, just open it and throw it in. We're supposed to always be suited when not belowdecks, and that may be why no one's told you yet. Only reason we go out to the hangars is we're getting ready to drop or we help unload, and either way, it'll be in armor. Something about always practicing control, too, but don't worry about it.”

* * *

A half hour later, with your stuff stowed away, you sit on the edge of the bed, flipping through the menus of your computer terminal. There's a detailed ship map in here, which should be useful. There's some kind of scheduling subsystem, but you can't trust it to be up-to-date. Any time an officer wants you to do something, they're more likely to tell you directly than enter it into the ship's computer system.

Wait, this is interesting. Is this supposed to be open? Similar to what you'd been reading that day on Ketyr, but while those had more of a strategic or historical slant, these look like tactical reports on specific incidents.

[ ] 9th Lunar Expeditionary Force

[ ] Vesom-Beta Colony Infiltration

[ ] Sector AV-26 Pirate Activity

[ ] HPS Iron Will
>> No. 27636
>>27635
[X] Sector AV-26 Pirate Activity

Fuck yeah, pirates!
>> No. 27637
[x] Vesom-Beta Colony Infiltration

Sounds interesting.
>> No. 27638
[x] HPS Iron Will
>> No. 27639
[ ] HPS Iron Will
>> No. 27640
[x] HPS Iron Will

Sounds like it should either be a valiant last stand or a glorious battle we're looking at with a name like that
>> No. 27642
>>27640
It's the name of a ship?

[X] Vesom-Beta Colony Infiltration
>> No. 27644
>It's the name of a ship?

No shit.
>> No. 27648
[X] Sector AV-26 Pirate Activity
>> No. 27650
>>27642
It is.

An HPI ship. Perhaps I should have specified.

Thought it unnecessary, for weak reasons.

But the current decision is important. The reason being that this is your story, and so a decision like this had to be made.
>> No. 27651
[ze] HPS Iron Heart Surge Will

>>27608
YES.
THIS.

>>27608
I knew her reply was going to involve ice, but I wasn't expecting her to dismiss them both as equally destructible.
Unsurprising, though, considering the speaker.
>> No. 27652
>>27650
>HPI
Hewlett-Packard Industries?

I don't even know what this is based off of.
>> No. 27656
>>27652

>>27474
>> No. 27658
[x] HPS Iron Will
>> No. 27695
[X] HPS Iron Update
>> No. 27696
[X] HPS Iron Update
>> No. 27698
An emblem takes up one corner of the screen, bearing white and black hands clasped over a golden-yellow disc, all atop a deep blue background.

Designation: HPS Iron Will
Class: Unknown (see attached report)
Allegiance: Human Protection Initiative
Complement: Unknown (see attached report)
Location: Sector UN-09, orbit of Devya colony

Summary of findings: Propaganda broadcasts began 2:35 hours prior to Iron Will's appearance on scanners, due to lack of satellite coverage on opposite planet side. Class unknown, but size and shape indicates long-range cruiser. Half-company of light infantry dropped with four units heavy air support on administration sector. FTL communications equipment seized, security displaced—low casualties. Defensive installations compromised. Iron Will returned to high orbit with at least one third of infantry, at least half of vehicle support, and all spacecraft. Civilians accosted in manner consistent with previous reports on HPI activity in-system.

Report ends, June 8th 13:30

There isn't much else there, just linked references to other material. You glance down at the clock at the opposite corner of the screen, showing the time to be 19:47 on June 8th.

* * *

“Get up, Khar!”

Your eyes snap open, and you turn and half-roll off the bunk, only then noticing Hunter's half-dressed state and the red lighting. Why are the lights red, anyway? There's no siren nor klaxon, nor automated voice warning of danger. Just this too-sharp, too-dim lighting, painting the room you went to sleep in in a surreal style. Satisfied that you're awake, Hunter goes back to dressing. Following suit seems like a reasonable plan, under the circumstances.

“What's going on?”

“Approaching a hostile ship. That means low alert for most, and combat stations for the crew. We haven't been called yet, but—got enough sleep?”

“Enough. Would I have time if I hadn't?” You follow him out into the hall.

“Probably not, and you don't want to even risk the first lieutenant catching you asleep when he wants you armored. Speaking of that, better grab it.” He slaps a hand against one of the small container doors, opening it and taking out his own suit.

Unlike the armory back on Ketyr and its training suits, these don't rely on a recharging system, so they can be stored anywhere. On the other hand, that also means it may not have full power when you need to put it on. You retrieve your armor, stepping in and reattaching the seams as quickly as you can without being unsure of your movements. Holding up the helmet, attached to the suit's sensors and power by a well-armored cable even as you hold it in your hands, you can see the little status indicators being projected onto an opaque portion of the visor. Fully fueled, or close enough. At a touch, the indicators disappear, the visor turning translucent across its full surface.

* * *

There's a feeling of excitement among the other soldiers waiting in the empty meeting room by the marine quarters, arrayed in a spread pattern to all watch the viewscreen. It shows little, just a view of the bridge, you're guessing. It's hard to recognize any of the figures there, but that's probably the commander standing just to one side of the center, in armor as you last saw her, with a taller, unarmored figure next to her in a naval officer's crisp whites. Surrounding them are an array of consoles and enormous screens. The audio, however, is what you're all waiting for. You overhear a few soldiers to your left.

“We're headed toward Devya, after that call—”

“Going after what?”

“You didn't hear? Distress call, HPI attackers.”

“Those bastards grabbing people again?”

“I bet.”

A colorful curse.

“Shut up, shut up, they just said 'hailing range'!”

It quiets down. Everyone's attention focuses on the screen. This gives you the opportunity to stare at one of the women who was speaking without being noticeably rude. You've never seen a mutant with a pair of giant horns coming out of her head before, and didn't expect to see any mutants at all in an elite fighting company. Your vision is redirected by the commander's voice. It's colder than you remember it.

“Bring them up.”

“They're not responding, ma'am.” One of the men at the consoles.

“Range?” The naval officer turns to look away to his left, then back around the room.

“Fifteen seconds to salvo range at present velocities, sir.”

“They're turning to—no, they're turning to broadside, ma'am!”

“Tch. Such old thinking.” The commander, again. “Destroy.

“Forward splitters one to four, fire on mark.”

“Forward splitters one to four, ready!”

“Mark!”

“Forward splitters one to four, fired!”

You look around the room, thinking for a moment that maybe you should get somewhere more secure, but no one else seems to be bothering over it. It would help if you had some idea how combat between capital ships even worked, but that wasn't covered in any of your training. Would it even matter where you were, if the ship was hit directly? Maybe not. Or maybe no one yet thinks there's a chance of being hit.

“Fourteen seconds to detonation, mark.”

Iron Will accelerating rimward.”

“See? Told you!” comes from your left. Someone else hushes him.

“Ma'am, will we pursue?” The officer asks the commander. There's the barest of pauses.

“We chase. Prepare a drop shuttle.”

“A... They haven't...” Surprised, his demeanor breaks.

There's snide mockery in the commander's tone, “The crawling bugs must be exterminated. They have split their swarm, and so I split my arms. Beyer? Go, burn them from Devya.”

From off-screen, you hear his instantly recognizable growl. “Yes ma'am.”

There's a beep from your suit not a minute later. It seems you are now on active duty.
>> No. 27699
Your armor has a variety of weapon-carry points, and the Blade of Ragnarök's armory is well-stocked. With the suit's power you could keep up a fast march even fully loaded, but it's your maneuverability that might suffer. At the most... four smaller weapons, two larger weapons, a dozen grenades, and plenty of ammunition. Half that would still be more than most light infantry carry, but with powered armor, it's workable.

[ ] Melter (energy, pistol). Though they have a short effective range, melters are fairly accurate and efficient in their damage, with a conveniently large ammo supply. Unlike many energy weapons, they actually lose effectiveness in vacuum.

[ ] Scoped magnum (solid projectile, pistol). A high-powered pistol with a solidly reliable rangefinder, useful to those wishing for longer-range versatility more than a backup close-assault gun. Heavy and counterbalanced, but still has a significant kick.

[ ] Submachine gun (solid projectile, pistol). A relatively low-powered weapon, but capable of spitting out its entire magazine in short order. In terms of possible damage over firing time, its output is excellent, ignoring the ammunition issue.

[ ] Light rifle (energy, assault rifle). Actually two weapons hooked to a single power source, clever engineering gives it a high cycling speed while keeping significant pulse energy, making this one of the more reliable as well as powerful infantry weapons. Accurate to medium range, but it keeps power best in vacuum. Training models have been called “military flashlights,” but that's neither here nor there.

[ ] Close-assault rifle (solid projectile, assault rifle). While it has a good effective range on single-shot, its only on full-auto that it can display its damage potential. The sixty-shot magazine can be expended in three seconds, but short bursts are preferred for lightly armored opponents.

[ ] Utility knife. Useful in a variety of situations, but not preferred for combat when alternatives are available. Light and well-balanced.

[ ] Combat knife. Painted down for night operations (excepting the edge), heavy and sharp. The alloy keeps an edge impossible on civilian implements.

[ ] Vibro knife. When activated, its penetration power is vastly improved over unpowered weaponry, but the sound and energy signature discourage stealth use.

[ ] Fragmentation grenade. Most tactical grenades operate by exploding shrapnel, and include a variety of timing systems and explosive patterns.

[ ] Flashbang (grenade). Nonlethal light and noise. Any decent armor has built-in dampeners, but nothing is really fast enough to compensate for one of these, so the smart soldier activates his systems ahead of time.

[ ] Scrambler (grenade). Essentially a progression from smoke grenades, this releases a heavy particle cloud capable of confusing most EM, light, and even sound-based sensors. Scramblers vary in cloud size and duration, the particles eventually dispersing or breaking down.
>> No. 27703
Hmm... I'm split on whether to take the melter or not.
Would it contribute significantly to our load? (I'd envisioned it as an SMG-sized gun.)

I'd venture to say that any distance too close for the magnum to be fully effective can be handled by some quick footwork and our vibroknife, though...

@ !YvCruenWk2: I assume our "light weapons" can be drawn and holstered pretty quickly?
>> No. 27704
>>The fact that we can fire it while holding it in one hand means it can be useful when we ambush with one of our knives. I wouldn't try to one-hand it in any situation that'd require us to fire it more than a few times, though. It is a magnum, after all.

We can hold it MGS3-style; cut an indent in the bottom of the handgun's grip, hold the knife upside-down and support the gun with the pommel of the knife, like you would with your hand when firing a pistol normally.
>> No. 27707
If it was not clear, your destination is Devya colony--on the planet of the same name, the 9th planet of the system.

>>27703
The melter isn't much different in size from the magnum or SMG.

Light armor and assault armor both tend toward more convenient quick-retrieval for small weapons (such as pistols and knives). Not as much for grenades.
>> No. 27711
>>27701
Probably should have explained my choices.
>[x] Light rifle
Something heavier than a sidearm, and works in the vacuum (we won't be in a vacuum, will we...?)

>[x] Melter
Basic energy weapon sidearm, not much need to worry about ammo capacity.

>[x] Scoped magnum
It's long-range, it's a sidearm, and it packs a hell of a punch.

>[x] Utility Knife
Swiss Army Knife, nigga. Never leave home without it.

>[x] Vibro knife
Hackin' and a slashin'

>[x] 3 fragmentation grenades
>[x] 2 flashbangs
>[x] 1 scrambler
Party favors, card tricks, and a puff of smoke to vanish in.

>[x] 1 partridge
>[x] 1 pear tree
Local beautification.
>> No. 27712
[2] Submachine gun (solid projectile, pistol)
[1] Combat Knife
[2] Vibro Knife
[6] Flashbang (grenade)
[6] Scrambler (grenade)

The Blade is taking off after the enemy cruiser, so we don't know how long we'll be on the ground. That means we should pack light to minimize usage of suit power. No rifles and only two sidearms, means you have plenty of extra ammo that isn't going toward the rifle you're not using. Lots of ammo then makes the SMG (a really a machine pistol if it's the size of the melter and magnum) more appealing than the other sidearms. The second SMG is not for dual wielding, but as a backup that is compatible with the ammunition from the primary. The scoped magnum would give us range, but that's not our job; that's for the designated marksman.

If we're focusing on CQC-style combat, then flashbangs are more useful than they would be otherwise, since they allow you to close distance, which you should be able to manage quickly since you haven't encumbered yourself. Dual vibro blades or SMG/vibro combination will be standard man-to-man combat options. The combat knife is for stealth use, and for deactivating mines. If we're forced to fight at range, the spray-and-pray method is much more effective with the SMG than the melter or the magnum, and since you carry only one ammo type, you'll outlast the enemy's ammo supply. Second, the SMG provides better cover fire than the magnum or the melter.

They enemy has taken hostages, and since this is a friendly civilian installation, we have a duty to minimize collateral damage. Therefore the use of fragmentation grenades is prescribed. The enemy has very likely rewired the automated defenses, if they're willing to put up a pitched fight with no hope of extraction; that means scramblers will be essential.

Squadmates are likely carrying general equipment (i.e., someone will have a frag grenade to clear that foxhole), so specializing is not going to harm us.
>> No. 27713
>>27712

Good thinking. Changing vote:

[2] Submachine gun (solid projectile, pistol)
[1] Combat Knife
[2] Vibro Knife
[6] Flashbang (grenade)
[6] Scrambler (grenade)

Although, do we really need a separate knife for stealth? Can't we just use one of the vibro knives with the motor deactivated?
>> No. 27714
>>27712

What he said.

[2] Submachine gun (solid projectile, pistol)
[1] Combat Knife
[2] Vibro Knife
[6] Flashbang (grenade)
[6] Scrambler (grenade)
>> No. 27716
>>27713
>Although, do we really need a separate knife for stealth?

If the vibro blade is painted a matte black like the combat knife is, then no. Since it wasn't described as such, I would assume not.
>> No. 27720
[1] Melter
[1] Imperial Flashlight Light Rifle
[1] Combat Knife
[1] Vibro Knife
[2] Frags
[4] Flashbangs
[4] Scramblers

Assuming we are gonna planet-drop, this is an ideal loadout for a situation that we know little about. The rifle will allow us to suppress at medium range and below, while the two knives allow for stealth and power. Besides, I think someone once said something like "It doesn't how matter how many times you can shoot at someone if you can't kill them."

Plus, how much do you want to bet that we may be able to hook up our weapons battery-magazines to our suits, or vice versa?
It works for the strogg.
>> No. 27725
[2] Submachine gun (solid projectile, pistol)
[1] Melter
[1] Combat Knife
[1] Vibro Knife
[6] Flashbang (grenade)
[6] Scrambler (grenade)

Sounds smart, though I added a melter and dropped a vibro because unless I missed it, I still haven't seen anything really convincing me we need two of them.
>> No. 27727
>>27725
>I still haven't seen anything really convincing me we need two of them.

Knives don't jam, they break. So why would you rather carry a backup Uzi AND a melta, at the cost of dividing our ammo stock in two, making the Uzi less efficient, and not giving us any benefit--at least the magnum would give us some range.
>> No. 27728
>>27712
"Machine pistol" is not inaccurate. Some machine pistols and SMGs are the same size.

Melters are actually the most effective out of the pistol class for mine-clearing, thanks to their large ammo supply and relatively slow firing cycle.

I think you meant "proscribed."

>>27713
A vibro knife can be painted for stealth, but in comparison to the combat knife it is a somewhat heavy, not quite unwieldy weapon, needing a stronger structure and a substantial power source.
>> No. 27729
>Assuming we are gonna planet-drop, this is an ideal loadout for a situation that we know little about.

Hi. Read.

>>27698
>Summary of findings: Propaganda broadcasts began 2:35 hours prior to Iron Will's appearance on scanners, due to lack of satellite coverage on opposite planet side. Class unknown, but size and shape indicates long-range cruiser. Half-company of light infantry dropped with four units heavy air support on administration sector. FTL communications equipment seized, security displaced—low casualties. Defensive installations compromised. Iron Will returned to high orbit with at least one third of infantry, at least half of vehicle support, and all spacecraft. Civilians accosted in manner consistent with previous reports on HPI activity in-system.

>Report ends, June 8th 13:30

>There isn't much else there, just linked references to other material. You glance down at the clock at the opposite corner of the screen, showing the time to be 19:47 on June 8th.

It happened 6 six hours ago. Civilian installations taken, along with hostages. Propaganda broadcasts suggest the enemy intends to establish a permanent base here, meaning their group troops are well-prepared and equipped, which is confirmed by the escape of their cruiser. We can expect the enemy to have be high in number (2/3 of ship complement) with vehicle support (1/2 of ship complement) and no air support.

We cannot do anything about their vehicle support, but since we'll be heading into an installation, we should be able clear the base and wait for air support to take out the stranded enemy armor.
>> No. 27734
>>A vibro knife can be painted for stealth, but in comparison to the combat knife it is a somewhat heavy, not quite unwieldy weapon, needing a stronger structure and a substantial power source.

Well, if the issue is stealth application, I don't think having a slightly heavier weapon would be a hindrance. Hell, it might not even be a bad thing at all; piercing armor, even if you take your target unawares and aim for a "soft spot", is no simple task. A sturdier, heavier implement could be even more effective.

>>27725

Melters may have abundant ammo supplies, but SMGs are more versatile, which is a good thing, considering that we aren't taking much in the way of firearms. Besides, we're taking two SMGs worth of ammo, so no worries.

"Why use two knives"? One: should we encounter someone prepared for melee combat, having two weapons to parry and attack with is a godsend, two: we'll have a spare, and three: it's awesome.

Anyway, revising vote:

[2] Submachine gun (solid projectile, pistol)
[1] Vibro Knife
[1] Vibro Knife (black)
[6] Flashbang (grenade)
[6] Scrambler (grenade)
>> No. 27735
>>27734

Oh, I thought this went without saying, but if we can get two stealth-painted vibro knives, that'd be ideal.
>> No. 27738
The thought of dropping a flashbang, cleaving the enemy's rifle in half with the vibro knife, and extracting information on enemy deployment from a live prisoner seems to me like a quicker way to climb through the NCO ranks than filling the air with bullets.

What's more is that the close-in nature of our combat will all but require we be the one in operative command of our fireteam. Providing considerable cover fire with two SMGs should make us seem like seem like team players as well.

Basically, primary melee combat against isolated enemies, extract information, then spend the rest of the time providing fire support and disabling grenade support with our plentiful supply.

We even have some chance against light armor and automated security. Vibroknives are going to be much more destructive to armor than frag grenades and bullets, and if they're manned, we can quickly open the tin can to get at the gooey inside. The scramblers give us time to close distance and disable them: In a fog, it's easier to kill or disarm someone with a melee weapon than to bring your rifle to bear on a target you cannot see. Firing blindly could take us down, but they may as easily hit friendlies, when all we have to do is crouch and wait until they're forced to reload.
>> No. 27744
Hm, update?
>> No. 27746
>>27738

You've got some good ideas, there.
Don't forget that the knife would be ideal for dealing with heavily armored enemies, too.
... And officers are far more likely to be wearing heavy armor than grunts.
>> No. 27756
Equipment selected:
Light Assault Armor
Submachine gun (2)
Vibro Knife (black) (2)
Flashbang (6)
Scrambler (6)

The holsters fasten securely to points on your armor, while still letting you adjust the carrying angle to make drawing easier. The knives go below, on your upper legs, by the reasoning that they'll be easy to reach for while sprinting. One SMG goes over your chest, the other attached over your left shoulder, where a rifle would normally be. It's difficult to get a dozen grenades arranged comfortably, but you end up using a pair of loops to hang half a dozen off each hip. The cords tighten until they look more like part of the armor itself, though the grenades themselves can't be fully secured. Flashbangs and scramblers... enough for liberal usage over a significant engagement.

Hunter's finished before you, and you walk to the shuttle together, you taking the opportunity to ask, “No field packs? Or are we not going to take that long?”

He shakes his head. “In assault armor? If we take too long our power'll run dry first. No worries, though. Even if it's occupied, the colony's still on our side.”

“Sure... we only have to worry about an invading army.”

“Nah, more like half o' one.”

“Oh, right. That's nothing, then?”

“You got it. Just take 'em out in time for tea 'n' crumpets.”

You're told to relax for the next hour, but considering you're suited up and sitting in a combat shuttle, there isn't much you can do to relax but talk with Hunter, look at the other seven soldiers waiting in the same hold—some of them absorbed in their own, low conversations—and take a nap, all of which you do, in roughly that order. Being able to sleep anywhere is certainly a useful skill.

* * *

Even through the craft's thickly armored hull, you can hear the distant whine of the atmosphere just being hit. You close off the sound by securing your helmet, the chronometer showing you slept for thirty-six minutes. With everything else closed out, and without your aural pickups active, you can clearly hear the force comm band.

Beyer's voice. “First squad will drop on the admin. Fourth squad has the barracks. Our anti-air coverage is still in space where it's needed most, and we can't field air-to-ground with hostile fliers around. So don't expect any, and don't wait around outside.”

You hear a click, signifying a switch to the squad comm band. A floor schematic for some large complex flickers into place over most of your visor, the shuttle still visible between the glowing green lines. You adjust the settings of the projector with a small hand motion, bringing it better into focus. The model rotates, several labels popping up over particular points. Looking over its entirety, it seems like the administration center of a small colony like this must directly control the port and some of the colony defenses, as well.

“While the facility defenses may be online, we don't expect them to have the manpower to closely monitor everything, so we'll strike from multiple directions. If an entrance proves heavily defended, give up on it and join the nearest successful entry point. Getting in comes before wiping them out. After gaining entrance, regroup and make for the command systems. They'll be in the center of the third floor, halfway between the ground and roof.”

The briefing continues, assigning particular positions to your squadmates in pairs. Their drop points are arranged around the complex, though it's doubtful that anyone will land right on target without the shuttle getting dangerously close. After each position is described, a set of routes through the building interior flashes to life, starting from the entrance nearest the drop point. Your assignment comes last, placing you and your partner near an entrance for delivery vehicles attached to the main building.

Your thoughts turn back to the drop mechanism itself, with some trepidation. There was some training vaguely like this, but they hadn't actually had a transport and proper equipment on hand to use for it. After Hunter explained it earlier, you understood insofar as landing and filing out simply wasn't an option, but the idea of strapping yourself to a chair that's then ejected at high speed from a shuttle already in a power dive, all to accelerate you to such a velocity that there remains little chance of any ground defenses focusing in time on your low power signature, is enough to make a sane man wonder if a marine force is really somewhere anyone would want to be. On the other hand, ending your career as shrapnel floating slowly to the ground from a collision with an anti-air rocket would be unsatisfying, to say the least.

Barely thirty seconds after you finished committing the important details of the map to memory, the lighting flashes from red to green. The sounds of metal moving against metal carry through your seat and armor to your ears, followed immediately by everything within your vision being replaced by a wide, black, spinning, star-filled sky, the shuttle becoming quickly lost in it. You thank the heavens you're not prone to g-sickness, being able to do little else. It's at the last possible moment that the boosters in the frame around you activate, slowing and controlling your descent—supposedly. You can't tell that they're actually do anything, judging just by how fast the air's going by.

You slam into the ground, the force stunning you even with the compensators. The restraints blow off half a moment later, and you roll forward and away from the pod, right hand drawing the SMG from your shoulder in the same motion. Gray 'crete buildings rise up not far away, but more important is the machine gun fire coming from somewhere behind you and striking against the pod you just vacated. Though most of it (with the exception of the break panels) could be salvaged, its condition worsens in that moment, pieces of its upper frame flying off and scattering over the yard. You turn and aim (just slightly slowly, you fear) at the weapon emplacement jutting out of a panel on the ground as it swivels toward you, still firing. (Thank you, Artificial Stupidity, for targeting the pod before the soldier.) Both your movements are interrupted by a zap and the emplacement being blown into several, molten fragments. A short distance to your left, Hunter hefts a heavy energy rifle of an unfamiliar model, running toward you and the large doors of the vehicle entrance to your right. The sounds of fighting come from every direction, though none but you two are immediately in sight, either friendly or enemy.

You pick yourself up and sprint ahead, reaching the doors first, and then skirt along the wall to the left to a man-sized door. You drop the SMG to hang by its strap from your wrist, trying the door even as your other hand draws one of your knives. Locked, naturally, and sturdy against even powered strength, at least at this level. A flick activates the vibroknife. Being designed to break through military weapon-grade alloys, such a knife is also capable of carving pieces out of an armor-plated door, if slower than you'd like. Hunter's caught up to you before you're half done, and covers the field with his rifle as you work.

Time to think about what you're going to do when the door opens. Inside should be a loading/unloading bay, with double doors on the opposite side going to the main first floor hallway. Thinking about that door wouldn't hurt, either.

Your sensors alert you to a large, high-power signature moving over the building in your direction. That probably isn't good. Rather, that is probably one of the HPI's left-behind air support units.

Input plan
[ ]>
>> No. 27758
[X]Try to work faster.
Hunter is covering us, he should give us a heads up if we're spotted..
>> No. 27759
>>“Sure... we only have to worry about an invading army.”
>>“Nah, more like half o' one.”
>>“Oh, right. That's nothing, then?”
>>“You got it. Just take 'em out in time for tea 'n' crumpets.”
>>You're told to relax for the next hour, but considering you're suited up and sitting in a combat shuttle, there isn't much you can do to relax but talk with Hunter, look at the other seven soldiers waiting in the same hold—some of them absorbed in their own, low conversations—and take a nap, all of which you do, in roughly that order. Being able to sleep anywhere is certainly a useful skill.


Holy shit.
These guys are badass.
I think we made the right choice for our assignment.
>> No. 27762
[X] Try to work faster.
[X] If the energy signature gets too close, drop a scrambler.
[X] Ask Hunter to ready a grenade for clearing when you're almost done.
--[X] In the unlikely event that he can't, use one of your flash grenades.
[X] Once the door's open and the 'nade has gone off, do a quick scan of the room before you head in, taking point with Hunter providing cover-fire if necessary.
--[X] If the room is too heavily defended, join the nearest successful entry point, as instructed to in the briefing.
>> No. 27774
>Time to think about what you're going to do when the door opens. Inside should be a loading/unloading bay, with double doors on the opposite side going to the main first floor hallway. Thinking about that door wouldn't hurt, either.

First of all, this is a large room you're entering: A frag won't clear it, and a flash will just alert everyone to your presence.

Second, if this a loading bay, there's the chance a grenade could spark a fuel container or magazine. Check your fire.

[x] Try to work faster. Use both knives if it will help.
[x] If the energy signature gets too close, drop a scrambler.
[x] Ask Hunter to cover the door.
[x] Once the door is open and Hunter gives you the OK, do a quick scan of the room.
-[x] If no immediate targets, find cover inside and wave Hunter in. Proceed to sweep the room, minimal noise.
-[x] Do not open fire or turn on your blades unless your enemy is already been alerted to your presence.
-[x] If there is an enemy within melee distance, muffle him and use combat knife to kill him silently.
-[x] If there is an unalerted enemy or group of enemies at a reachable distance, throw a scrambler on top of them, then rush into the 'smoke' with both vibroknives out.
-[x] If there is an alerted enemy at a distance, take him down with the SMG, then find cover.
-[x] If there is an alerted enemy at a distance with cover, lay down suppressing fire with both SMGs, so Hunter can flank them.
-[x] If there is an automated threat, draw its fire between cover, so Hunter can take it out.
-[x] If the room is too heavily defended, drop a scrambler to cover your retreat and then find the next nearest entry point, as instructed to in the briefing.
>> No. 27779
[x] Try to work faster. Use both knives if it will help.
[x] If the energy signature gets too close, drop a scrambler.
[x] Ask Hunter to cover the door.
[x] Once the door is open and Hunter gives you the OK, do a quick scan of the room.
-[x] If no immediate targets, find cover inside and wave Hunter in. Proceed to sweep the room, minimal noise.
-[x] Do not open fire or turn on your blades unless your enemy is already been alerted to your presence.
-[x] If there is an enemy within melee distance, muffle him and break his neck or something
-[x] If there is an unalerted enemy or group of enemies at a reachable distance, throw a scrambler on top of them, then rush into the 'smoke' with both vibroknives out.
-[x] If there is an alerted enemy at a distance, take him down with the SMG, then find cover.
-[x] If there is an alerted enemy at a distance with cover, lay down suppressing fire with both SMGs, so Hunter can flank them.
-[x] If there is an automated threat, draw its fire between cover, so Hunter can take it out.
-[x] If the room is too heavily defended, drop a scrambler to cover your retreat and then find the next nearest entry point, as instructed to in the briefing.

See the text in bold. We didn't bring a combat knife, only the vibro
>> No. 27780
[x] Try to work faster. Use both knives if it will help.
[x] If the energy signature gets too close, drop a scrambler.
[x] Ask Hunter to cover the door.
[x] Once the door is open and Hunter gives you the OK, do a quick scan of the room.
-[x] If no immediate targets, find cover inside and wave Hunter in. Proceed to sweep the room, minimal noise.
-[x] Do not open fire or turn on your blades unless your enemy is already been alerted to your presence.
-[x] If there is an enemy within melee distance, muffle him and break his neck or something
-[x] If there is an unalerted enemy or group of enemies at a reachable distance, throw a scrambler on top of them, then rush into the 'smoke' with both vibroknives out.
-[x] If there is an alerted enemy at a distance, take him down with the SMG, then find cover.
-[x] If there is an alerted enemy at a distance with cover, lay down suppressing fire with both SMGs, so Hunter can flank them.
-[x] If there is an automated threat, draw its fire between cover, so Hunter can take it out.
-[x] If the room is too heavily defended, drop a scrambler to cover your retreat and then find the next nearest entry point, as instructed to in the briefing.
>> No. 27785
>>27774
Bravo on the write-in, half tempted to ask about the thought process behind it.

>>27756
[X] Try to work faster. Use both knives if it will help.
[X] If the energy signature gets too close, drop a scrambler.
[X] Ask Hunter to cover the door.
[X] Once the door is open and Hunter gives you the OK, do a quick scan of the room.
-[X] If no immediate targets, find cover inside and wave Hunter in. Proceed to sweep the room, minimal noise.
-[X] Do not open fire or turn on your blades unless your enemy is already been alerted to your presence.
-[X] If there is an enemy within melee distance, muffle him and break his neck or something
-[X] If there is an unalerted enemy or group of enemies at a reachable distance, throw a scrambler on top of them, then rush into the 'smoke' with both vibroknives out.
-[X] If there is an alerted enemy at a distance, take him down with the SMG, then find cover.
-[X] If there is an alerted enemy at a distance with cover, lay down suppressing fire with both SMGs, so Hunter can flank them.
-[X] If there is an automated threat, draw its fire between cover, so Hunter can take it out.
-[X] If the room is too heavily defended, drop a scrambler to cover your retreat and then find the next nearest entry point, as instructed to in the briefing.
>> No. 27787
[ze] >>27779

>>27785
I, on the other hand, am fully tempted. Please, explain.
>> No. 27793
[X] Use both knives on the door
[X] Use scrambler on incoming target, if needed.
[X] Scan the room
-[X] Smoke and clear if enemies spotted
-[X] Standard clear if no enemies spotted
--[X] Clear with you on point, with Hunter behind

Hunter is covering our ass, plus he can see if the craft spots us. Also, I think his rifle may be able to damage some thrusters at the very least if it comes to that.
>> No. 27794
>>27787
>I, on the other hand, am fully tempted. Please, explain.

It's a decision tree.

>-[x] If no immediate targets, find cover inside and wave Hunter in. Proceed to sweep the room, minimal noise.

Since the enemy has a massive advantage in terms of armor, using what's left of the original planetary motorcade and the (now crewless) enemy vehicles will be invaluable. This is the rationale for checking your fire, and why we may want to use discretion and hold our position, diverting from mission parameters, after securing it--this is the kind of on-the-ground decision-making that gets you promoted as an NCO.

>-[x] Do not open fire or turn on your blades unless your enemy is already been alerted to your presence.

We didn't enter with an explosion or anything, and as a loading bay, this will be a large room, one with a lot of open ground; it's hardly the place kind of place you'd decide to make a stand in an attack. Second, the door is sealed, s secondary entrance; security is alerted, so they'll be moving toward more likely entry points. Ones not already covered by automated security turrets.

>-[x] If there is an enemy within melee distance, muffle him and break his neck or something

However, this room may be a strategically valuable target if they parked their armor here. The people likely to be here are technicians and crewmen, who we could expect to be lightly armed. Killing the crew before they can enter their vehicles is important, which is why we are doing this stealthily. Moreover, personnel who are not used to combat are unlikely to possess better melee skills than ranged.

>-[X] If there is an unalerted enemy or group of enemies at a reachable distance, throw a scrambler on top of them, then rush into the 'smoke' with both vibroknives out.

The 'Rumia Maneuver'. Running into a crowd of enemies who can only hear the high pitched whine of your vibroblades will terrify them. If they're unarmored, their bullets will be more deadly to each other than to us. Second, it gives us cover from others outside of the smoke, lest they risk killing their own people. Hunter doesn't need to cover us this way, and is free to find cover and take out targets at range.

>-[X] If there is an alerted enemy at a distance, take him down with the SMG, then find cover.

Either you fire and everybody knows you're here, or he fires and everybody knows you're here. Both are bitter pills, but one is clearly more bitter than the other.

>-[X] If there is an alerted enemy at a distance with cover, lay down suppressing fire with both SMGs, so Hunter can flank them.

Hunter has a heavy, energy-based weapon. Powerful, but low ROF and unweildy makes it less than ideal for suppression. We have relatively weak solid penetrators, but they'll certainly work against unarmored targets, and will still send someone armored scrambling for cover. That we have two SMGs means we can sustain suppression for twice as long as normal before having to reload (assuming we use them in sequence). Obviously, we're going to be better at keeping them holed up than Hunter will.

>-[X] If there is an automated threat, draw its fire between cover, so Hunter can take it out.

Unless we're in range to cut it with our knives, our relatively inaccurate, low-powered kinetic rounds are going to be less than favorably matched. We are fast, and the machines are dumb, so we just need to do what we did with the last one, and let Hunter get a good shot.

>-[X] If the room is too heavily defended, drop a scrambler to cover your retreat and then find the next nearest entry point, as instructed to in the briefing.

Scrambler because it'll be instantly confusing. They won't follow or enter the smoke, because they'll be assuming we have a full squad making our way in. Only when it clears will they stop firing and actually find that we're not there.
>> No. 27795
>>27794
Thank you.
>> No. 27889
>-[x] If there is an enemy within melee distance, muffle him and break his neck or something

It's already been said that the vibroknives will still work with the motors turned off.
>> No. 27895
>>27889

You've waited more than a week to say that. Why so slow?
>> No. 27896
>>27895

Been away.
>> No. 27914
>>27895
>Why so slow?

This applies to you too Cruen.
>> No. 27939
Crue is dealing with large amounts of school work currently. In a few more weeks, his classes will be over and he can finally cut loose and update all of his stories as well as start up a few of the other things he has a part in.
>> No. 28709
Crue is now done with school so updates should resume shortly once he has everything back in order
>> No. 28711
>>28709

Awesome.
>> No. 28758
Stop giving people expectations, dangit.

That said, writing soon.
>> No. 28807
Choice entered: Smoke and dagger, cover me in

You draw out your second knife, activating it by the first, against the door at the level of the deadbolt. Leaning into the door helps to hold you stable as the blades try to bounce off and away from the thick, metal support. It deforms, finally breaking, but a similar bolt holds the door shut on the hinged side.

From behind you comes a hissed “He's nearly on us!” Your display immediately confirms Hunter's statement. You don't have time to waste, and this won't be finished quickly enough. With well-practiced motion, one hand drops to slip a deactivated knife into its sheathe, coming up with a scrambler from your waist loop. Your thumb is through the triggering ring, then yanking it up and out, your armor making up for all deficiencies of leverage. You pause your arm for the required moment, then toss the tiny explosive into the air, seeing the jut of the HPI craft just coming over the building before its lost in the sudden wash of optic smoke, your sensors momentarily attempting to compensate, then giving up in confusion as any consistent image refuses to resolve. Your other hand continues to hold your knife against the remaining bolt, snapping through it in short order, but not before you hear the louder whine of revving ballistics.

Hunter says something, but it's lost in the roar of gunfire. Impacts spray up ground close enough for you to see it through the smoke, just to your side. This could require a small change in plans.

You hold up a “cover me” sign (one of the clearest, and thus useful under the circumstances), throwing open the door and standing with your back fully against the wall to avoid the searching automatic fire still raking the ground in front of you. Hunter takes half a moment to look inside, smoke leaking forward into the building, before firing his weapon once and shouting “Clear!” He sprints forward, and you follow quickly, leaving the door as it is. They'll know you went inside anyway, since your signature would've shown up if you'd left the obscuring range of the scrambler moving in some other direction. That, and the torn gouges left by the width of your blades leaves it awkward.

The room is arrayed as expected. The large vehicle doors are to your right, allowing the entrance of even heavy colonial ground porters but for the fact that they're closed, and that one of the two parking zones instead contains a pair of high-class civilian ground-skimmers, the one further in parked nearly at a right angle. Not in evidence is any resistance, nor sign of a struggle, apart from the sparking remains of something attached to the high ceiling. Likely an automated gun Hunter noticed. On the other hand, the fueling station you're taking cover against (the fuel itself deeply set beneath the floor with internal shielding, as per safety regulations, leaving only a bank of controls) doesn't allow a full field of view. Again taking quick note of the floorplan from memory, you dash to the nearest skimmer, then across the rest of the room, sweeping your eyes over every blind spot and trusting your speed to handle the first shot and Hunter's covering fire for the second.

Nothing. A matter of seconds later, you finish your circuit, and send the clear sign to your partner, crouching by the interior door marked on your route. Faint indicators on your sensor display show that there are powered systems inside, but nothing as distinct as the signature for an armored suit. You adjust the timer on several of your grenades for faster triggering (something that would have been useful earlier, so long as you don't mix them up).

With minimal noise, you open the door, moving in and around to the left, following a narrow hall. A few minute motions cycle through the display settings for your visor's indicators as you try to make sense of the readings and match your surroundings to the map. It looks like the next hall should turn back around to the right, with small rooms lining the left—and those are probably the readings given by a pair of charged energy sidearms coming around that hall and in your direction. No armor means they're not yours. One you could grab and break quietly, but two is problematic in that regard.

You pull out a second scrambler, triggering it and throwing it around the corner and into the hall the two soldiers are about to reach. Vibroknives held underhand, you pull the activating triggers. On sensor, you can see the pair of lights stop around where the grenade fell, just as you hear the loud pop and see the smoke blow past you, channeled and condensed in the confined space. You duck around the corner, leaping forward from a single step, one knife held forward and point-down.

Blasts of heat and light rip through the air, leaving tiny shafts of emptiness through the smoke, distorting, swelling, and quickly collapsing. Even firing half-blind and surprised, at least a few marks are left on your armor, bits of metal burning and snapping off from your left shoulder. Then your weapon finds the humanoid figure—a man, you realize in passing, with only partial, unpowered armor—and plunges into him, your far greater momentum knocking him fully off his feet and further down the hall. You pull the knife easily from his chest, the armor giving easily enough, at the same moment planting one foot against him to cast yourself away and to his fellow's side. Though there can be no problems of visibility at this distance, it seems his reactions just weren't enough to deal with the situation. The second HPI soldier has barely turned to face you before you're past him, your left knife trailing blood from his neck. Just to be sure, you complete the dash into a spin, right hand—with knife—slamming into his stomach, and likewise pinning him against the wall. His rifle falls, blood flowing freely from his wounds.

Your armor shows minimal damage. All systems are functioning normally. That still could have been easier.

Outside the smoke, you pick up more signs of fighting, but not from any single direction. At least some of your squadmates are in the building, and the defenders are fully aware and mobilizing. Given the opportunity, it's time to prioritize.

[ ] Find the rest of the squad, if they're on this level.

[ ] Keep the defenders off-balance, before they can fortify.

[ ] Head up to the next floor, before the fighting reaches there.
>> No. 28811
[x] Find the rest of the squad, if they're on this level.
>> No. 28814
Normally waiting for the full squad would be wise, however these guys were weaksauce without their armor. In a squad, we'll be pulling command-support duty at best. Our close-in style requires that we stay ahead of the pack.

[x] Head up to the next floor, before the fighting reaches there.
-[x] Tell Hunter to meet up with the others; you'll be going on ahead to scout out the enemy's preparedness.
[x] Radio command: Ask what the most delicate, expensive, sensitive facility is within the enemy control; request permission to recover it immediately with minimal collateral.
-[x] Failing any such targets, you could try shutting down the automated defenses.
-[x] Do not attempt to take enemy fortified positions; find (or make) alternate access or wait for backup.
-[x] When spotting an enemy that you do not need to engage, radio in location & number to tactical command so they can get demo or heavy teams that can.

Remember that the enemy has a sizable ground force outside who will attempt to retake the base, so we'll want to scramble those turrets, not destroy them, so we can rewire against them. Avoid attacking fortified enemy positions, where you are useless, but mark their locations over comm for heavy/demo teams to take them out.

We may be caught behind enemy lines, but that's okay, because we'll be spending that time carving up their command structure.
>> No. 28815
[x] Head up to the next floor, before the fighting reaches there.
-[x] Tell Hunter to meet up with the others; you'll be going on ahead to scout out the enemy's preparedness.
[x] Radio command: Ask what the most delicate, expensive, sensitive facility is within the enemy control; request permission to recover it immediately with minimal collateral.
-[x] Failing any such targets, you could try shutting down the automated defenses.
-[x] Do not attempt to take enemy fortified positions; find (or make) alternate access or wait for backup.
-[x] When spotting an enemy that you do not need to engage, radio in location & number to tactical command so they can get demo or heavy teams that can.

Tactics. Use them.
>> No. 28816
[x] Head up to the next floor, before the fighting reaches there.
-[x] Tell Hunter to meet up with the others; you'll be going on ahead to scout out the enemy's preparedness.
[x] Radio command: Ask what the most delicate, expensive, sensitive facility is within the enemy control; request permission to recover it immediately with minimal collateral.
-[x] Failing any such targets, you could try shutting down the automated defenses.
-[x] Do not attempt to take enemy fortified positions; find (or make) alternate access or wait for backup.
-[x] When spotting an enemy that you do not need to engage, radio in location & number to tactical command so they can get demo or heavy teams that can.
>> No. 28850
[ze] >>28814

I hope this is a good idea.
>> No. 28950
[x] Head up to the next floor, before the fighting reaches there.
-[x] Tell Hunter to meet up with the others; you'll be going on ahead to scout out the enemy's preparedness.
[x] Radio command: Ask what the most delicate, expensive, sensitive facility is within the enemy control; request permission to recover it immediately with minimal collateral.
-[x] Failing any such targets, you could try shutting down the automated defenses.
-[x] Do not attempt to take enemy fortified positions; find (or make) alternate access or wait for backup.
-[x] When spotting an enemy that you do not need to engage, radio in location & number to tactical command so they can get demo or heavy teams that can.
>> No. 28988
The hall branches ahead.

“Which way to the other groups?”

Hunter glances down the right branch. “This way is the nearest, if they got in. Another service entrance.” He turns back to you. “What are you thinking?”

“I'll be scouting ahead, before the fighting reaches the next floor.”

Cautiously, but not slowly, “Our orders are to regroup first, and you're going up without me?”

“I'm equipped for tight quarters, and this is the only chance to get behind them before they have every path barricaded, if there's a chance at all. I'll turn back as soon as I'm blocked.”

He curses. “Get going.”

With a nod, you move in opposite directions—he toward another entrance, and you to the stairs. As you run, you contact mission command—which falls to the lieutenant, with the aerial units having already peeled off.

“Corporal Khar to command.”

“Go ahead, corporal.” Beyer's voice.

You skip the stairs themselves, vaulting over the railing to reach the second floor in two motions. Significant energy signatures here, heading your way, but not too quickly. You pause there.

“Inside, making my way up. Requesting info on priority targets to crack. Minimal damage.”

He growls, “Main controls are third floor, corporal, you know that.” You do. The route isn't difficult to remember. And the controls for the defenses will also be there. “There's a power substation on the second floor—only other weak point we have.” On record, anyway, you think, as the location appears briefly in a map of the building. These structures weren't made to be easy to take.

Oh, damn. Damn damn damn. Those are armor signatures in the hall just on the other side of this door—which means they probably know you're here, if their own readers are working. There's no way to reasonably hide an assault suit's heat in combat, and there's no point in bemoaning a lack of scout armor at this stage of the game. Looking more carefully, it seems like... probably two suits here, on the second floor, a good distance down a straight hall with several offshoots. Something like weapon systems up on the third floor—more heavy emplacements, similar floorplan. Exiting from the stairwell, you probably can't avoid either... unless there's less resistance on the fourth floor or above. Not likely, since another group is coming in from the roof.

Input plan
[ ]>
>> No. 29037
Plananon! Quickly, to the Plan-Cave!
>> No. 29040
There's only two of them, and you're wearing assault armor for a reason.

[x] You'll hit the power substation, which may take the gun emplacements on floor three offline.
[x] First you need to take out those guards.
-[x] They won't be able to see your heat signature through a scrambler. Drop one behind the door in front of you before you open it.
-[x] Submachine guns at the ready. If you're spotted, you don't need to hit them, you just need to force them to take cover.
-[x] Open the door, standing to the side. If they open fire into the mist, they know you're coming, in which case you should use the door as cover, and await reinforcements.
-[x] Expect to run into unarmored resistance as well. You should be able to take them down with your submachine guns.
-[x] You need to close distance. Advance quickly but cautiously. If you're spotted open fire.
-[x] If you when you start to take fire, duck into a side room.
-[x] If they take cover first, chuck another scrambler ahead of you and haul ass to close the distance.
-[x] If they start advancing on you and you're in a side room, drop another scrambler to make their advance more cautious and cover your signature. Use your knives to cut a hole in the dividing partition between that sideroom and the next over. Through the hole you've created, you can flank them unawares as they approach where they think you're holed up.
-[x] Alternatively, you can leapfrog by throwing down scramblers in the corridor and advance into the opposite side room ahead of you.
-[x] If at any point you do you get in melee range of the armored units, remember your standard close-in protocol: Throw down a scrambler, and get both knives out and into them as quickly as possible, dropping your submachine gun(s) if necessary.
-[x] If you become totally pinned, radio your position and the enemy number, remembering that you have plenty of submachine gun ammunition; take cover and you may simply be able to outlast them, forcing them to retreat for lack of ammo, or until you get backup.

AKA "All I know about armored infantry tactics I learned from watching Jin-Roh"
>> No. 29042
[ze] >>29040

Thank you, Plananon! You've saved the day once again.

...Jin-Roh was good. Could have used more military bits, though.
>> No. 29043
>>29040

Ummm, this.
>> No. 29112
[x] >>29040
>> No. 29142
[x] >>29040
thirded
>> No. 32080
Are you ever going to update this or is it dead?
>> No. 32082
File 125538773446.jpg - (14.17KB , 320x240 , Its dead Anon.jpg ) [iqdb]
32082
>>32080
>> No. 34098
>>32080
I will return to this when CAVE in /others/ is finished.
>> No. 34222
File 126516384455.jpg - (128.51KB , 850x680 , sample_4004add9bcbf9b0ea9145162886f45fdaac7b5a0.jpg ) [iqdb]
34222
It's been slow. So I'm just gonna throw this up here.

************************************************

There's still got a chance, assuming you can move quickly enough, that they haven't spotted your exact location yet. Not much of one, if they were paying attention as they should be. Priming scrambler number three, you drop it immediately, filling the stairwell so thoroughly that you can barely see the next landing up. You slide up against the wall, and open the door with one hand, keeping a submachine gun ready in the other. As soon as the door is opened slightly, it slams the rest of the way, a rapid patter of solid slugs battering the light-weight wood-plastic until one round tears it off its hinges and it strikes the stairs going up.

It only lasts for a few seconds, followed by silence, but stepping into that doorway still feels like a very bad idea. With the smoke surrounding you, you can't even tell if they followed up by advancing or taking cover.

The distinct tink of a grenade hitting a hard floor puts all such thoughts aside. Pure, trained reflex kicks in even before your mind can reach the point of concluding that you need cover now. With one hand you grasp the railing, and with that arm you vault over, wrenching the support out of place in power-assisted haste. You drop to the floor below and roll under the stairs as the explosion goes off, tiny fragments of blown apart masonry falling down around you. Fortunately, the building code seems to be up to par, as the stairs fail to fall on your head.

Something's up there, but you can't tell if it's coming down. This smoke won't clear for awhile. On the plus side, they shouldn't be able to figure out if you were hit or not without coming down to check. A quick look up the well reveals nothing, your visibility limited to a few feet. Giving away your position with the SMG would be poor strategy at this point, so you holster it, replacing it with a vibroknife.

You turn up your signal gain and flip an encrypter. “Corporal Khar reporting. Blocked by two armor on second floor at point Kilo.” Wait, where did that grenade come from? It didn't sound like it landed in front of the door. “Point smoked, extra inbound from above.”

There's a short burst of static as your communicator matches encryption, then Hunter's voice. “Corporal Hunter here. Read you, Khar. Reinforcing advised?”

“Confirmed, Hunter. Bring a knife.”

“Reinforcing ASAP.”

Still no discernible noise from above. You wait, mentally going through the motions necessary to take down an armored soldier following you down the stairs, but there's no such luck. These ones are proving more cautious than the first soldiers you ran into. Another tense minute later, you hear armor approaching from the doorway behind you, along with Hunter reconfirming your location—necessary, since you're still sitting in the smoke. The two of you make ready to advance, along with two squadmates you've yet to meet. You memorize their insignia, just in case you'll need to recognize them later. 117 and 118, both light assault suits.
>> No. 34223
Updates? Here? In hwat alternate reality am I?
>> No. 34226
I dont know, but i'm happy this has been updated...
>> No. 34227
I remember this!
>> No. 34245
Hooray!
>> No. 34585
“What're we up against?” Hunter asks.

You think for a moment. If they'd had heavy direct fire weaponry, they could have just blasted through the stairs at you. Based on the two you encountered on the second floor, they're using frontline battle armor. Either the ones further up the stairwell were a non-armor unit, or an armored unit you've yet to encounter. There aren't enough enemies around to indicate the presence of a third unit, unless they've scattered or are holding in reserve. Good enough reasoning.

“Can't see, but—light infantry up the stairs, pair of heavies one floor up.”

“Yeah, I see those. What's past 'em?” His sensors must be better than yours. You can't make out anything that definite through the ceiling.

“Power substation, below the command center.”

“Bingo. Found a way up?”

You have more firepower to call on now, and since they've stopped firing, they must not know where you are. You could try using another stairwell, but they're likely to be as easily guarded, and it'll cost you some time to reach one. Still, that would be faster than making a new entrance without attracting too much attention, unless you're lucky enough to find a room with a more vulnerable ceiling. Your map lacks that detail.

[ ] Saturation fire to clear any ambush, then climb up and engage.

[ ] Sneak up through the smoke.

[ ] Double back and cut your way up behind the heavies' position
>> No. 34588
[x] Saturation fire to clear any ambush, then climb up and engage.
>> No. 34589
[X] Sneak up through the smoke.

Take the first two out quietly. Firing blindly will just announce our presence and result in another frag grenade from the heavies.
>> No. 34593
[ ] Sneak up through the smoke.
>> No. 34616
[X] Sneak up through the smoke.
>> No. 34622
[ℤℯ] Sneak up through the smoke.

If there was a way to locate and smack back the grenade towards them before it blew up in your face, I'd be for it.

>>34222
The mecha/armor part is ridiculous, but damn, does she look good in that suit.
>> No. 34627
Choice entered: Sneaking operation

“That's what the smoke's for.” You ready one knife, keeping the other hand free to climb. “If they knew where we were, they'd be shooting.”

“Good enough. I'll let you call this one. You heard him, guys.” He gestures to the other two to fall in, letting you take the lead.

“Let's hurry up and tag these suckers.” 117 says in a woman's voice, barely keeping her finger off her trigger.

You double-check that your aural output is switched off, which will at least hide your breathing, along with anything you need to scream into the comm. One thing a scrambler can't block out is simple sound. It isn't likely to matter at a distance, but up close, anything could give you away. On the other hand, a soldier in battle armor is likely to have his pickups dampened, relying on visual and other electromagnetic sensors when his own weaponry would deafen him anyway.

Going for the stealthier option of actually climbing the stairs, rather than jumping straight up, you carefully make your way up to the landing in-between the first and second floors. The smoke is thick enough that, even at this short distance, your allies' power signatures disintegrate into vague clouds of static, giving you only a general idea of their positions. They're sure to be following after a few seconds anyway, so it doesn't matter.

Up on the second floor, the smoke has ebbed into the hall beyond the blasted doorway. No fire comes your way from that quarter. You glance further up the stairs, but it's no good—there'd have to be at least a shadow of movement for you to tell where someone was for certain.

Yes, just like that. Shit.

The small-arm blast takes you in the left shoulder as you throw yourself to the right, and you can hear the HPI soldier shout his triumph as he comes leaping down the stairs to finish you off at point-blank. By the lady, he's stupid. His next shot misses, and you leap up to plunge your whining vibroknife into his stomach, then wrench it upward through his ribs, cracking off bullet-resistant armor all the way. From up the stairs, someone else fires at you, and you use the first soldier's body as impromptu cover. You can see the flash of Hunter's weapon firing through the stairs from the landing below, briefly igniting his target, with more energy fire following to the same location. Well, your stealth was shot to hell the moment you were hit, so no problem there.

That's when the entire second-floor landing fills with the sound of impacting heavy machine gun rounds, as the battle armor behind you take theirs chances in simply filling the space you're standing in with high-velocity death.

You just have time to realize this before, reeling from one hit to the side, several rounds strike close to the spine of your armor, breaking it and you. There's no time left to reflect on what went wrong.

***

Input destination post.
(Please exercise caution in larger traversals of time.)
[ ]>
>> No. 34628
If there are any questions, even "The hell was that?", I will always attempt to answer.

>>34622
>The mecha/armor part is ridiculous, but damn, does she look good in that suit.
We are of one mind in this.
>> No. 34629
Are there some sample options?
>> No. 34630
Back one choice and then
[x] Double back and cut your way up behind the heavies' position
>> No. 34631
[x]Back one choice
-[x] Double back and cut your way up behind the heavies' position.
>> No. 34634
>>34629
Input "__ choices back" or a post number.
>> No. 34642
[x]Back one choice
-[x] Double back and cut your way up behind the heavies' position.
>> No. 34766
I need to sleep.

**********************************************

“Not here. Stairs and hall're both under watch. I've got their position 'till they move; we'll cut up behind them.”

“Sounds good. Toss me your readings.”

Some quick manipulation of your map overlay marks where you'd spotted the armor, and you relay the information to the other three.

“I saw a room we can use on the way in. This way.” 118 says in a gruff man's voice, after taking a moment to look over the data.

You follow without argument, keeping an eye out for anything following. You won't have much warning if something comes down through the smoke. Your path takes you forward, then down another hall to where a pair of HPI soldiers, cauterized holes in their chest, slump by a door that leans from one hinge. Inside, a stepladder stands by several ceiling panels. Above it, the holes opened in the ceiling reveal a mess of thin pipes, armored wires, and a thin ventilation grate. Your map shows you to be below a room around two corners from the third-floor hall to the stairs, so well enough out of sight. Jumping up onto the stepladder—which barely holds—to get a closer look into the ceiling area, it looks like you can get up here by widening around the vent, but your schematics aren't detailed enough to tell you what cutting these pipes will do. They're not hot, and they're not making a sound, so maybe they're not in use—or maybe they're protected, low-amperage wire bundles.

Only two ways to find out.

“What's in the pipes?”

Hunter says, “No idea.”

Only one way to find out.

118 also carried a vibroknife, so the two of you set to work from opposite ends. Cutting the connections between some of the pipes and the inner ceiling panels proves easier than cutting the pipes themselves, and you push them out of the way just enough that you'll be able to squeeze through. Next comes the ventilation, which you simply break and throw to the ground as unimportant under the circumstances. Beyond it is just a thin layer of flooring, the heavier supporting beams wide enough apart to prove no real hindrance. The four of you make it up.

This looks like someone's office. The door is locked, and their terminal off. You casually unlock the door and, all at once, pick up two signatures to the left—powered armor, more or less where you left them. They're through three walls (and picking them up through that much means they're working at high output), but there'll only be one in the way once they make it around that corner.

“Move!”

“Go ahead, Hunter, we'll cover you the rest of the way!” says 117—a woman's voice.

Opening the door seems slightly faster than just knocking it down, so you do so, moving around to the right even as you reconfirm that this is the route to the power substation. Hunter's right behind you, and behind him you can hear the first projectile and energy exchange as your pursuers are halted by the other pair's covering fire. Should really get their names later. It's not like a squad roster is that hard to remember.

At the end of the next hall, the door is locked from the opposite side, which you solve with a couple of well-placed kicks to the handle, followed by pulling out the remains of the lock from the wall. Inside is a control room.

“Do you know how this place works?” you ask.

“Big red buttons, maybe?” He shifts between covering the door you came in and a second door at the opposite end of the room with his weapon.

“That's not very hel—hey, there's one.”

“Good job. Work fast—they've still got an army coming in from outside.”

Already working, you correct him. “Half an army.”

“Right.”

Emergency shutdown. A set of heavy switches beneath glass safety covers, sorted by area—and they are red. Only The first to third floors seem to be linked to here. You pop open the last in the row, and flick the switch.

A nearby terminal pops up an error message.

### 3A SHUTDOWN PENDING
### D0 AUTHORIZATION REQUIRED

What's the point of a hardware failsafe if the software stops it from working? With an inward sigh, you key an automatic request to mission intel for authorization codes. So long as the invaders haven't gotten a chance to wipe the security profiles, this should be only a minor delay. Your authority stems from the scarlet scourge herself, after all.

“Incoming!” Hunter hisses, crouching and trying to take what minimal cover the room offers from the far door. How does he keep managing to see the enemy a moment before you do? There isn't even an energy reading—you cut that thought short and draw your sidearm, aiming at the door.

A beep and a flashing indicator on your heads-up tells you that intel just found your code. You waste a moment in indecision before jumping up and to the controls, keying the code to transmit from your helmet mount to the waiting terminal sensor. The message disappears, and technical jargon scrolls across the screen—probably diagnostics, each section followed by a line ending in “power off.”

The door kicks open to show an unlit room beyond, and a brief shower of flechettes send sparks racing across the controls as you once more dive for cover, closer to the door. Hunter fires, dropping one of them by the sound of it, and forcing a pause in the attack.

A dark room—and you've got six flashbangs. Why not?

“Flash incoming,” you warn Hunter while tossing the grenade underhanded and firing your SMG blindly. With any luck, they'll be too distracted by one to notice the other rolling to their feet.

There's just enough time to deaden your pickups before it goes off. Even without audio, you can feel the sound blast hit your armor, and the light causes your compensators to blank your visor for a quarter second.

You run forward as quickly as you can, knife in hand and heat sensor active. You could trigger a light, but this will keep them blind just that moment longer. Finding the first body of four, you slash as well as this vision lets you, and strike armor. Your second knife comes up and you push the two together, breaking through and being rewarded with a scream. The room erupts with the sound of firing anti-personnel rounds. You turn and lunge, your thrust scoring in your second target's neck even as you hear (and see, from the way it briefly lights around him) a third go down. Hunter's at your back. The fourth is a few steps too far away, and is panicking, firing wildly. Solid shots rake across your chest and left arm, but they fail to penetrate. If he hit head or joint, maybe...

Taking a chance, you throw one knife, spinning end-over-end, transferring your left to your right to replace it. Whether you misjudged from seeing only his thermal image, or the heavy vibro-weapons are just impossibly ill-suited to throwing, this doesn't work as well as it did in your head. No matter. Another zap from your partner blows a hole through the HPI infantryman.

“Let's go.” you say. Nearby stairs will take you right up next to the main control room, with the defenses down.

“Hrmph. Got hit.”

“What?” You do switch your lights on now, looking over his suit for damage. Long flechette rounds stick out from around his neck. They can't have gone all the way through, or he'd be dead. “Hells. How bad is it?”

He waves one hand dismissively. “Not that bad. Still got my neck, but I'm reading a power loss. Something important must have ruptured. That, or my readings are all acting up. I think my sensors are shot, too.”

“Any limb problems?”

“We'll see if I can't run.”

You nod, and make for the stairs.

Your comm shows a squad-wide message, 117's voice saying, “Full battle squad inbound. Falling back to point sierra-two.”

That would be... just behind you.
>> No. 35409
Updates? Or is this another bad end?
>> No. 35445
I wish I could write now, but I'm rather short on time.

(That was an understatement.)

The previous post is a half-finished update.